As I walk with Crow, I flex my fingers, noting the sharp tips of my fingernails. He strides beside me in stony silence, fists balled and his eyes forward. From what I can tell, he didn’t want to bring me into this any more than I wanted to be brought in. His earlier charm must have been nothing more than desperation, and now that I’m in he lets it fall. The longer we walk, the more feathers fall from his coat, his hair, his long legs that seem bonier with each step. By the time we reach the end of the meadow, far removed from the city we came from, Crow is positively shaking.
Several long moments pass before he speaks to me. “You understand the danger of this mission, don’t you? You could end up like Mouse, I could, we all could. This is important. Whatever dream you’ve had of getting past this, past us needs to be dropped, right now. There are many things to fear in the forest, and many more to fear in the change. You are no longer any of the things you have been in the last two years. You are Fox.”
Chills run through me at his words. I remember the power I held, the power we all held. I remember each and every villain we fought, each and every battle we won. I was strong then. I must be strong again. I nod my head.
He leads me to the low hovel, gesturing to it as if I had forgotten. I didn’t think it would be possible to forget my history with Crow, Mouse, Crane, and Tortoise, but bitterness does strange things to the human mind. I crawl in, breathing the scent of earth and damp ground, feeling the strange movements happening in my limbs. I run through the tunnel, watching the walls around me expand as I move, my limbs leaner and faster, my gait swift.
The tunnel breaks at last, the sound of nature at its purest exploding around me. This nature has never been trod by human form, not even my own, for I am not human anymore. I am Fox. I have red fur, sharp claws, ears that shoot straight from my head. Beside me, a black crow flaps out of the tunnel, settling on my left shoulder. I turn my head to meet his eyes and I know it at once. We are in the forest.
We are home.
The Mysterious Demise of Misery’s King
By Kat Franklin and Maya Cohen
Edgar Allan Poe, the king of darkness, some say, is well known for spending his life writing mysteriously grim stories. The end of his life was just as perplexing as the many tales that make up his legacy.
This odd series of events began an early morning trip on September 27 out of his home in Richmond. Poe was meant to be traveling to Philadelphia to edit some poetry for a fellow writer; instead, he ended up in Baltimore, Maryland 6 days later. A letter from a Mr. Jos W. Walker to a Dr. Snodgrass recounts how Walker found Poe, half dead, calling for a doctor. Poe was half-conscious in clothes that made him look homeless and standing outside a voting poll. He was promptly transported to The Washington College Hospital, however, he never improved. He suffered from intense fever and delirium in his last days, often slipping in and out of consciousness, calling out for “Reynolds.” Finally, he uttered, “Lord, help my poor soul,” before sinking into his final sleep on October 7, 1849.
Over 150 years later, the cause of his death and the events that took place during those 6 days is inconclusive with no death certificate or autopsy to reference. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an endless list of what could have happened. However, wouldn’t that ruin an almost perfect ending to his eventful life? Following, are some of the most plausible and well thought-out theories.
Poe made quite a few enemies in his life, three of them being the brothers of his fiancee Elmira Shelton. They were opposed to the marriage and, it is assumed, would stop at nothing to prevent it. One author on the subject, John Walsh, postulates that the three brothers jumped Poe in Philadelphia, warned him against marrying their sister, and forced him to wear a disguise to get back to Richmond. When the brothers figured out he wasn’t going to listen to them, they attacked him again in Baltimore and forced whiskey into his body to induce alcohol poisoning. There’s not a lot of evidence for this one, but it’s definitely interesting.
The fact that Poe was found outside a voting poll may not have been a coincidence. During the 1800s, the common practice “cooping” was very popular. This occured when someone was taken and forced to dress up and vote multiple times, pretending to be someone else. This would explain Poe’s peculiar clothing. As a sort of reward, people who participated, though they had no choice regardless, were given alcohol. This practice would result in Poe possibly being beat up, deliriously intoxicated, and left outside to die. This explanation is very plausible and has become highly acknowledged by many people. The name “Reynolds” of which he called on his deathbed was a judge at the poll he was found at. Poe’s biographer even received letters that claimed cooping as the definite cause of death, crediting more conclusive evidence to this theory.
It is no secret that Poe wasn’t necessarily the best with alcohol; multiple people describe him as an alcoholic, and the proof is even in his own writing! A possibility of Poe’s death is that he could have run into some former Westpoint classmates, which he previously attended. Being invited out to drinks sounds harmless enough, unless of course you’re Poe and go overboard. Unsurprisingly, he had a little too much to drink which resulted in him wandering around the street, partaking in obnoxious and regrettable behaviour. If he were to say or perform a particularly offensive gesture to some random people, they probably wouldn’t have been too happy. This could’ve led some “Ruffians” to be rather salty and beat Poe to a bloody pulp, leaving him to his death. Don’t drink kids.
Heavy Metal Poisoning
Edgar Allan Poe was exposed to a cholera outbreak in Philadelphia, 1849, however this is not the theory about to be presented. Poe was prescribed calomel, a medicine, like anyone would even today. This medicine was high in mercury. Mercury, a type of heavy metal, if too prominent, could cause poisoning as well as hallucinations before death, say some scientists. Though this theory has many holes and is not the most realistic, nothing can really be out-ruled as a cause for death, even though this theory is not the most exciting.
In 1996, as a medical exercise, doctors looked at anonymous patients, their symptoms, and began to diagnose them. From this arose the theory that E.P. had a case of Rabies. Yup, that disease that makes rodents want to murder everything in their path. Edgar Allan Poe, had many symptoms that were synonymous with rabies. He was delirious, lethargic, and presented many other physical attributes as well. This diagnosis was the first time Poe’s death was looked at without background information on the author himself. Unfortunately this theory has some plot holes. For one, he wasn’t scared of water (a symptom of rabies) and he didn’t remember being bitten. Many believe these inconsistencies can be dismissed, leaving Rabies as a very probable ending for Poe.
The Flu (Influenza Virus)
A tamer theory for the end of Poe is that he just had the flu, which could happen to anyone today. He didn’t get drunk or get beat up. Many of Poe’s acquaintances stated that a doctor he saw in Richmond, said he exhibited a fever, weak pulse, and illness before his trip. Against his better judgement, Poe decided to travel anyway. If his illness was bad enough, without treatment, influenza would lead to pneumonia and deliriousness. It’s hard to imagine that this common sickness could do so much damage. But this rather boring, but realistic cause of death could explain Poe’s physicalities, leaving many other odd details, like his clothing and locations, up to the imagination.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
This kind of poisoning was common in the 1800s, contracted most often from the gases released when coal burned. One theorist ascribed Poe’s illness to this particular means of death, even taking a clipping of his hair to test it for the metals present in the noxious gas. His test, however, was inconclusive which makes this theory very unlikely.
A theory that surfaced only recently is surprisingly plausible. Not much was known about tumors in the time poe lived in, but it would explain much of the unusual behavior he exhibited before his death as well as the fever and delirium. This would also explain the confusion and semi-comatose state he was found in. When Poe’s body was being moved to a better cemetery, about thirty years after he died, the movers found a mass rolling around his skull, potentially the tumor that degraded much slower than his flesh.
One of the most supported theories of Poe’s death is alcoholism. The king of darkness had darkness in his soul, leading him to an unfortunate life of addiction. He was seen at a tavern in Baltimore where he died. He was found passed out, and most of the onlookers believed him to be in a drunken stupor. The doctor attending to him in the hospital said that his symptoms were like alcohol withdrawal, and the fever from it killed him.
The best, and most likely of the theories surrounding Poe’s death, is that he’s still alive. I mean, Edgar Allen Poe was the master of death in his writing, why wouldn’t he be the master of it in real life? Medical records can easily be falsified, especially in the 1800s, which lacked digital records and security. The obvious answer to the conundrum of Poe’s death is that he never died in the first place, and that he’s still alive today. Happy 210th Poe!
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/story/the-mysterious-death-of-edgar-allan-poe
Walsh, John Evangelist. Midnight Dreary: the Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe. St. Martins Minautor, 2000.
"Poe's Death Theories." Poe's Death | Edgar Allan Poe Museum | Richmond, VA. Poe Museum. 17 Sept. 2019 <https://www.poemuseum.org/poes-death>.
Geiling, Natasha. "The (Still) Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe." Smithsonian.com. 07 Oct. 2014. Smithsonian Institution. 17 Sept. 2019 <https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/still-mysterious-death-edgar-allan-poe-180952936/>.
"Crow" by Kat Franklin
1st part of a serial story
I knew Crow for exactly one year and three days. This wouldn’t feel like a lot to most people, I’m aware. The year and three days I knew Crow, however, was the longest year of my life. It was full of many things that I don’t talk about, and many things I talk about much too often. As time has moved on, that year has become a memory I’ve outgrown, like a child’s shoe that no longer fits. I’ve done away with it, or at least I’ve tried to.
I don’t think about him much, but sometimes when I’m doing the dishes, when my hands are elbow-deep in warm, soapy water, when my vacant eyes find the house he lived in, just beyond my kitchen window, I remember the boy I knew for one year and three days.
He’s been gone for two years, ten months, and two days. After two years, ten months, and two days, I really didn’t expect to find a dripping wet Crow on my doorstep.
~ ~ ~
When I met Crow, he was a scrawny thirteen year old wiping away tears. The first thing he said to me was, “I am well acquainted with storms.” When he left, leaving me wailing and heart-broken, once again he said, “I am well acquainted with storms.” As I stare at him, dumbfounded, wondering how Crow himself could be standing there before my very own eyes, in the dripping rain, no less, he smiles with exaggerated sarcasm and says again, “I am well acquainted with storms.” It was this familiar phrase that breaks the tension, and slowly I open the door to let him inside.
“Fox!” He opens his arms to me. His eyes are glittering, his grin is sharp and wicked, and the wet black hair plastered to his forehead looks nothing like the wild fluff he maintained when I last knew him. In fact, Crow looks almost professional now, if mischief were a profession. When I do not step into his open arms, some of his boisterous vibrancy drains.
“Fox?” He says again.
“Crow.” My arms are crossed over my chest, my gaze level. I can feel him taking in my new look, the longer locks of dark hair pulled back into a thick ponytail, the deeper golden of my skin now that I’ve begun to see the sun. For a moment, all he does is take me in, and I remember the mess I must have looked on the day we parted.
“You’ve come back.” I note. “I assume you’re going to tell me why.” For a couple moments more, he stares at me. It feels wrong to have Crow standing in my living room. Beside him are the stairs to the second floor, behind him is my yellow-painted front door, in front of him is me and none of that feels right. He doesn’t belong in my new life. I clear my throat and in a flurry of motion he begins talking.
“Yes! Yes, of course.” His hands move as fast as his lips, fluttering in every direction as he talks. Once again his shining, almond shaped eyes lock with mine. “I was in the neighborhood, and, well, I figured I should make sure you were still alive, because, you know, and. . .” He trails off, bringing his runaway hands back to his side. “And I’m in trouble, Fox. We’re all in trouble. It started with Mouse, Then Tortoise tried to help her, and now Crane’s with them. . . I don’t think we can help them unless we’re all there.”
It only takes me a couple of painful moments to come to the conclusion that I have to go with him. Crow doesn’t deserve my pity, nor does he deserve my help. But Mouse? Mouse never did anything wrong. And if she’s the one I’m helping, then I can pull my memories down from the shelf and dust them off. Only for Mouse. It’s after I come to this conclusion that I see Crow shaking a couple of black feathers from his long overcoat.
“Exactly what kind of trouble is Mouse in?” I take a step closer to Crow for the first time. He won’t meet my eyes when he speaks.
“She’s stuck,” He says. I suck in a breath as all the things that could mean come rushing to me. “You mean?” I can’t finish the question. He nods anyway. My legs buckle beneath me and I grab the railing to steady me.
“Hold on,” I tell him, “Let me get my things.” I walk up the stairs in a fog, my limbs moving mechanically. Mouse is stuck in the Endless Forest. She’s trapped in the body of her namesake. Crane and Tortoise must be as well, or they wouldn’t have sent Crow. And the feathers coming from Crow’s coat? He doesn’t have long either. As I’m packing, I realize my teeth have been pointier as of late. My hair has strands of red. I’m changing too. And now I have to go.