As originally written, “A Flock Of Crows” had a brief epilogue. Because of length considerations, the publisher cut a lot of material, including the epilogue. At least one reviewer then mentioned that he thought the book would have benefited from the inclusion of an epilogue (and I was like, “See, DarkTales?”) Now, through the magic of the Internet, you can read the missing epilogue and decide for yourself if it improves the ending.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
As it turned out, Henry met Raye Teller one more time; she turned up in late September, in the graveyard.
Paige had been buried way up on the hill, toward the back corner, near where the clipped grass of the cemetery gave way to the woods. Henry had gone up to collect the big ceramic flowerpot he left by her headstone, only to discover it had been smashed by vandals; so he collected the pieces instead, trying to balance the shards—they were sharp and curving, like his mother’s claws—in his hands without cutting himself. He had begun to turn, away from the stone and the woods, toward his car—Paige’s car, actually, his own vehicle being nothing but a rusty smear on the road—when, from behind him, a crow coughed loudly.
In the weeks since everything had happened, he’d heard many crow calls, of course. He could tell, somehow, whether or not they came from a natural crow—they nearly always did—or from what he had come to think of as a spirit crow, the residue left behind when you killed one of the flock. It didn’t seem as if the spirit crows had any special abilities—even the big one, the one with the white flecks, had never to his knowledge demonstrated anything other than unusual intelligence—but he didn’t like to hear them, just the same. They were threatening, and they made him remember.
This was not a natural crow.
He turned, scanned the dark, tufted greenery of the forest wall. Pines, scrubbly little ones. The ground was littered with fallen cones, matted with a spongy carpet of brown needles.
A voice said: “Mr. Fontana.”
Raye Teller. He couldn’t see her, but he’d never forget the voice.
“What do you want?” he asked the forest.
“You killed my father,” she said. It was approbation, not accusation. He squinted into the shadows, and thought he could see her, a dim shape out beneath the trees. She seemed to have a large bird perched on her right shoulder.
Henry stood there, and waited.
“Before you shot him, he got what he wanted. He humiliated and ruined Simon. Simon was a Selden, in case you didn’t know.”
“I knew. Paige told me.” Pause. “It’s over, then, isn’t it?”
“Oh, no, Mr. Fontana,” Raye said. “What’s called up from the pit is not so easily sent away again. The wings remain. I hear them in the night, flying through the trees. Don’t you?” Then, after a moment: “No, I don’t suppose you do. You never were one of us. Not really.” He heard a sound then, out under the trees, the rustling of spiny branches. “I would leave Selden Falls, if I were you,” she said; her voice had become distant, remote, like the wind off a mountain. “It won’t be safe, when the wings come again. They’re watching you.”
He still couldn’t see her, but he knew she was gone.
He stood there a little longer, then carried the pottery shards to the car. He dumped them into the trunk, climbed in beside Freddie. “Who were you talking to, Daddy?” Freddie asked.
“No one,” Henry said. He started the car. He stared at the sky, where cirrus clouds twined around each other in a lover’s embrace.
Dry leaves skittered across the narrow blacktop road.
He wondered what the weather was like in California.