Those Goddamn Vultures

She stepped outside to have a cigarette, and again, she saw those goddamn vultures. It was the third day they’d been there. They’d claimed the trees between her property and her neighbor’s, but what she didn’t understand was… Why were they facing her property?

Her online research had enlightened her to certain facts about the ugly winged creatures - a flock of flying vultures was known as a kettle. Vultures perched in trees were known as a committee. And if you saw a group of them feeding on a dead thing, then you were looking at a wake of vultures.

Most likely, the ones staring at her were turkey vultures and those suckers had a six-foot wingspan.

But why were they facing her house?

Vicki stared back at them, the committee on one of the pine trees, must be around twenty of them. She flipped them the bird.

“Ha. See what I’m doing? I’m flipping the bird to birds. Or is it… I’m flipping birds the bird?”

Vicki gave those gawking vultures an evil sneer before she turned and went back inside her house. That snear was a reflection of her internal emotional state as of the past couple of months. Bitter. Snarky. And she felt things were going to get worse because she formed an idea that grew claws and dug into her brain - those goddamn birds were like a fucking neon sign:


It had loomed over her for a few months. Months she had moved through without much thought - get up, go to work, come home, eat, watch TV, sleep, repeat.

Never mind the pain in her chest, or the bright, red blood she coughed up from time to time. No big deal. Didn’t mean anything.

Never mind the pain in her lower abdomen, or the black fecal matter she sprayed into the toilet every day. No big deal. Didn’t mean anything.

But those goddamn vultures…

On the third day of their visit, she kept thinking about them, perched on the branches, just sitting there, staring. The images of them popped into her mind, what the meaning of their presence might mean, making it difficult for her to forge a robotic normalcy of a day.

Vicki felt like she was in a Poe story, or a Hitchcock film.

Wasn’t there anything to be done about those peeping intruders?

Screw it. She was going to have to ignore them. She didn’t have any other choice. She had mad skills in that arena. She could do it.

Vicki parked her car in the carport, got out with her purse, headed for the front door of her home. Didn’t even look at the trees. Didn’t even have the urge to.

She hadn’t thought about those goddamn vultures all goddamn day.

The pain in her lower gut nabbed her full attention as it grew exponentially and travelled across the front of her body, stopping her in her tracks. She dropped her purse, then dropped to her knees with her hands on her abdomen.

“Holy shit,” she croaked.

The projectile vomit was next. It sprayed a thick, red half moon shape on the tan fence that surrounded the trash can. It dripped from her mouth, tracked down her scrub top. No big deal. Didn’t mean anything.

Vicki fell to the pavement, on her left side, balled up into a fetal position. Nothing but razor pain from her throat to her asshole. And then she shit her pants. No big deal. Didn’t mean anything.

“Fucking hell! Seriously?!”

She heard the flapping of wings. A lot of it.

Through her watery eyes, she saw them. May have been all of them. Those goddamn vultures. Featherless, red heads. White beaks. Brownish-black bodies. Feet like chickens’.

They flew down and landed, walked and hopped along the driveway, toward her, taking positions inches from her body, surrounding her. No big deal. Didn’t mean anything.

“What the fuck?!”

Vicki barfed again, a small amount on the pavement. One of the vultures lapped it up like a dog drinking from a water bowl. Its tongue and beak turned red.

“Go fuck yourself,” she said. And then she began to feel lightheaded.

And still, the vultures assembled. All around her. Two, three rows thick. They stood there, motionless, staring at her, like statues, waiting…waiting.

“No.” Vicki rested her head on the ground, closed her eyes while the eyes of the vultures uniformly turned bright white. They all spread out their wings, showing off their impressive wingspan, totally covering her body and the ground around her.

Vicki knew she couldn’t ignore her reality. This was a big deal. It did mean something.

And then she died.

The next thing Vicki knew, she was perched on a branch, staring at her neighbor.

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About the Author

Laura Shell took up writing again because her mother told her to just before she died. Laura will be published in Calliope, Chiron Review, Literally Stories, and will have an anthology of horror stories published in 2024. When she isn't writing, she watches horror movies with her dog, Groot. And her mother.