This is a continuation from this morning, click here to start from the beginning
The Scarecrow (Brayden's Story)
Samantha hated it from the first time she saw it. She knew how smart crows could be and the fact that some shit-kicker farmer thought they were being clever made it that much dumber. The way the straw spilled out of the too big overalls, the jack-o-lantern with the uneven eyes left to rot in the September sun. she hated the way someone had tried to put straw under the dopey wizard of oz hat like the stupid thing had hair. She had been so focused on tearing it down that she hadn’t even thought of where she was going. And now it was getting dark.
Driving by after a long day when she first caught sight of the thing, her idea seemed justified, noble even. Everyone knew that pumpkin seeds swelled bird stomachs, at least everyone in her ornithology class. So she figured she was doing whoever a favour, not to mention the stupid way the thing leered at her from it’s post wearing that stupid plaid shirt that looked like it belonged on Olive Swanson’s dorm floor. Samantha’s heart was breaking for the crows who would inevitably swell and burst, and that’s all. At least, that’s what she told herself, she didn’t know why she was even thinking of Olive on her way home anyway. She had succeeded in drowning out thoughts of that stupid pixie in a sea of Arctic Monkeys, but the dead silence from the loss of reception grew in the small cabin of her Mazda until she was pulling onto the dirt shoulder fuming over that stupid shirt. The scarecrow had to come down.
The corn wasn’t even tended, weeds and cattails grew amongst it like it was a concrete sidewalk. Sam spent the first few feet batting errant stalks out of her way before giving up and conserving her energy for the inevitable teardown of the straw-filled monstrosity. She was dirty and she could smell herself, and the sun kept moving through the sky. But she didn’t get any closer to that hideous grin, was it laughing at her? She wasn’t going to be beaten by some straw-stuffed crow killer. Boy, when she got to the thing down she was going to march right up to the house and give that yokel a blast of shit.
Except that now that she could see the sun fully setting she realised for the last hour she hadn’t gotten any closer to the thing. She realised even with the shoddy reception she’d left her phone in the car when something tangled in her ankles and she fell to the black earth. Samantha didn’t get her hands out in time and felt her teeth sink into the soft flesh of her tongue, she instantly tasted the coppery sick taste of blood.
“Ouch, dammit!” she rubbed her chin where her fingers came back sticky with black earth, what the hell had she tripped on? Her eyes traced through the cool darkness of the stalks, past the fallen ears of corn melting into the sweet stomach flipping scent of rot. When she saw what made her trip she furrowed her brow in confusion. What she was seeing didn't line up with where she was and the resulting optical illusion gave her nausea. A small creeping voice in the back of her head grew loud enough for her to actually process what it had been whispering for the last two hours: she was in trouble.
It was a pair of jeans. Faded to a lighter than sky blue and brown at the tattered cuffs winding their way through the cool darkness. Through a fray in the material Samantha could see pink flesh ringed by a bruise. It stared at her with it’s sickly purple-yellow eye. Samantha swallowed and scrambled backwards, her mind throwing the image of Reagan crab-walking downstairs in the exorcist. Samantha choked on her own spit and clambered to her feet. To the west, the first stars were becoming visible. To her left, the scarecrow was gone.
This time panic twisted her stomach and she stared fixated on the vacant wooden cross until she heard the stalks beside her start to rustle. She wasn’t positive but thought she saw a flash of that same blue and green plaid, that stupid plaid that got her into this in the first place. She started running. Corn stalks slapped at her face and tangled in her legs briefly before breaking free, each threatening to trip her and bring her face to face with that lopsided grin. She could hear the sounds of wings around her and caws that were almost accusatory as she ran through the corn. Finally, she broke through into a clearing between two fields. She looked towards the road but there was something blocking her path, a crow sat on a lump ripping off meaty chunks. Samantha saw stitches of fabric dyed a dark maroon. More crows landed on the lump and began feasting before she turned to her left and bolted down the dirt pathway. In the distance, she could see a small farmhouse. Her idea of giving the farmer grief was replaced by the relief that someone could help.
Behind her, the corn rustled and she thought she could hear boot soles on dirt clomping behind her. She didn’t dare turn around. She didn’t think she’d be able to handle it if she did. She was closing in on the house, she could see the brick chimney and the cream coloured siding. A few moments later and she saw the single light burning through a window.
When the dirt turned to grass she started screaming. She didn’t think she had any air left in her but she screamed as best as she could, slamming her palms on the heavy wooden door. When she heard the footsteps behind her, her hands found the latch and threw the door open. She ran through the lower floors of the house screaming for help. The same voice in her head that whispered she was in trouble continued to point out that a woman screaming should bring someone running. When she ran into the dining room she saw why no one would come.
They sat around the table, she could guess from their clothes the mother, father, and young son, but after that nothing made sense. Instead of faces each had a jack-o-lantern grin carved into them, with the same lop-sided grin the scarecrow wore. Through the window outside Samantha could see the driveway was filled with cars, some new, others as old as the pinup photos Olive had in her dorm room, all dusted chrome and vibrant curves. Samantha heard a creak behind her and the swath of plaid was the last thing she saw. In the fields the crows took flight.
“Some say if you're driving down a certain stretch of road along highway 17, on a clear night you can still hear her screams on the wind.” Brayden sat back, crossing his arms across his wrinkled uniform and smirking at the rest of the troop. “Well, beat that pansies. Bet you never heard one so scary, especially you piglette. I bet your mommy won’t even let you watch TV.
“She does too,” Willy whispered to the dirt while he felt his cheeks burn. He told himself it was just from the fire but couldn’t quite convince himself.
“I don’t think that’s right.” Brian spoke up “I mean, why did she even stop, if she’s supposed to be this great student shouldn’t she know corn probably doesn’t make bird stomachs swell?”
“How’d the scarecrow come to life? Was it a curse or just plain magic?” This from Derek. It was an honest question but Brayden only saw it as added criticism and chose to snap at him rather than Brian.
“Well I don’t know! Shit! It’s just a stupid story. You tell a better one then, I don’t even know why I lowered myself to this stupidity, screw this.” Brayden bolted from his log holding his cell phone as high up as he could as if the starlight was nature’s 5G tower.
Derek looked like he might go after him until Brian spoke up. “Forget him, he’ll be back when he realises there’s no more signal now than there was twenty minutes ago. I’ve got a good one, Will you might want to cover your ears for this one, I don’t want you getting nightmares and keeping us all up. From the darkness outside the firelight the three boys heard Brayden’s wicked cackle “hear that piglet?” Willy just kept looking into the fire. He readjusted himself on the log and picked at a loose piece of bark. A wave of homesickness washed over him like a fever and all of a sudden he was done with this stupid camp, maybe done with scouting all together. But on the heels of that thought was an idea, one that blossomed into a story even as Brian began speaking.
“Ok.” he started “I call this one: Entombed.”
Read Entombed: Brian's story Next week as Campfire Frights from Troop 15 continues in Second Saturday Stories