Last October, everyone gave me a wonderful response to my Halloween-based horror short stories so this October, once again, I am doing them. Every Saturday expect a new short story on here, every Sunday expect a new interview with a horror movie killer. It’s just a part of the October fun. No doubt with Dale on a rampage around my apartment, things will get even more unpredictable. As well, I have some fun giveaways for the month. Oh, it’s such a wonderful time to be alive amongst the dead!
Mark didn’t care for the field of scarecrows. Who the hell did this to a perfectly good sloping pastureland? He shook his head and studied the speared figures in the landscape. An entire two acres of land and perhaps 35 or 40 scarecrows. The farmer said it he had one for every year he’d lived there.
He shook his head again and squinted against the setting sun as he headed to the middle of it. Mark’s new employer, Mr. Bailey, wanted motion detector light bulbs replaced throughout the field where a good four tall posts were secured.
He looked towards the distant woodlands and the cornfields and couldn’t figure out how someone would sneak into the property that route and why he needed so many motion detectors when the house and its yard were dark and unlit. It would have made more sense to put them near the doors.
Not willing to question a man who hired him under the books to be at his beck and call, Mark headed towards the pasture, a knot forming in his belly. He hated scarecrows, but he really hated a damn army of them.
The first ones came into focus against the piercing sunlight. Mark walked past them and turned away from the setting sun to study them. The damned insane farmer had taken all his perfectly good pumpkins and used them for all these disfigured and useless crow magnets. Each of them looked misshappen and moldy, spotted and nasty. He walked around and studied one in profile up high on its pole. Flies buzzed around the agonized face and the sweet rotting scent of pumpkin flesh filled the wet air.
Mr. Bailey hollered from the upstairs window for him to hurry up before it got dark.
Mark waved to him in recognition and kept his face focused forward to the first light post, ignoring the flapping clothing around him and the wind picking up, swinging the scarecrows on their posts so that they looked as if they warning him, waving him away from the place. In the deep shadows they cast, he shivered and drew in his jacket.
A gust of wind violently shook the posts, bits of straw fell to the earth. Mark reached the light post as if he’d just found a familiar face in a crowd of angry revelers. He took a deep breath, set down the bag of bulbs and studied the height.
He needed a freaking ladder!
He raced to the shed, got the ladder and used it like a protective device to cut his way through the black flapping jackets and snapping raincoats, frayed flannel plaid shirts and nightgowns.
Good God! Some of the scarecrows were female!
He shuddered again and shoved the ladder against the post, grabbed the bag and scurried up it. The sun was just barely a tiny sliver above the tree line in the distance. Mark unscrewed a bulb and dropped it to the soft grass below, unwilling to take one more second than necessary to get the deed done. There were four bulbs on each freaking post and four posts!
He’d never be done before it got dark!
The squeaking posts whined around him like pleading children. He couldn’t resist the grim desire to view the spectacle. The amber hazy sunlight cast on the pumpkin heads making them glow. The wind created a sail effect on the clothing, making each scarecrow seem to inhale and exhale painfully as they pivoted on their poles, arms swinging stiffly to and fro.
If he studied it long enough, they truly appeared alive!
And, one post stood empty. He studied the ground around it. The scarecrow hadn’t fallen. It simply wasn’t there any longer.
Determined to not look again, Mark clambered down the ladder, tucked it under his arm and continued on for the next post and the next, stopping when he heard the sound of something other than the flapping scarecrows, something with a heavy footfall.
He peered around the moving shapes expecting to see Mr. Bailey himself coming out to nag him to hurry up. The man had been insistent the deed be done before dark or else!
“Mr. Bailey?” He called out as something darted between two scarecrows 20 feet away. “Mr. Bailey?” The dark shape took off quickly towards the rear of the pasture.
Deciding it was best to do this task expediently as asked, Mark reached the last post, it was in the murky between time with half light/half dark and few details in the distance to be discerned. The hoard of swinging and flapping scarecrows were still alive in the steady breeze.
Damn! He shouldn’t have looked again. Now with it darkening so much, the ones in the distance were particularly sinister.
Then his eyes focused on a movement that didn’t belong. Something cutting its way up between the row of scarecrows to his left. Mark screwed the bulb into the socket and scrambled down the ladder, pulling it up and carrying it off at a hurried pace.
The last light post lit up and Mark swung around to study the glaring light over the heads of the scarecrows. Something had to set it off; perhaps one of the scarecrows in the wind?
He turned away and rushed through the next group of scarecrows. One swung and slapped him in the cheek as he rounded one row and began another. He cried out in pain and touched his bloody cheek.
“You fucking stupid useless scarecrow!” He snarled back at the figure.
The bulbs on the post nearby lit up the area in a blinding white light. Mark squinted at the cheerfully carved pumpkin face had rotted more than most, its teeth now furred and green, the head caving in from its own juices, oozing down its chin like drool.
He winced and turned away, feeling the desire to vomit as the sickeningly sweet rotted smell hit him with the next rush of wind.
He took a step forward just as something to his right moved too. Whatever it was must have lit the two posts. Mark stopped and studied the darkness. He took three more hurried steps and it seemed to move right alongside him.
The wind stopped but one scarecrow moved as the black shape brushed by it.
Mark’s heart raced. He felt the distinct feeling of being watched and stalked and it wasn’t one of the damned scarecrows! He took three huge steps and the light nearby turned on. The area around him lit, he squinted and tried to find who had set it off. It wasn’t him. He was far away from the light post.
He tossed the ladder down and raced towards the center of the scarecrows. Footfalls raced alongside him as he reached the last light post pole. The promise of that white post brought with it the knowledge that he would cast the area in painfully bright light and whatever was chasing him would be caught!
He brushed past wilding swinging scarecrows, a tattered hem caught him on the arm and he had to yank to release himself as the heavy-footed follower came up behind him. Mark cried out, lunged towards the white post and then the area went white.
He swung around to confront his assailant, but nothing moved other than the scarecrows on the post, now lit up unnaturally and looking faded, sun-worn and moldy. He swatted at a large horsefly and studied the empty post wondering at its prior occupant.
“You got it done?” Mr. Bailey called out from the darkness outside of the light’s reach.
Mark stepped into the yard and followed the man up to the house. The stocky farmer seemed to not want to carry on a conversation in his own field. Mark followed him inside to the cozy well lit room.
“Need a drink, son?” He asked as he poured two glasses of whiskey.
“You don’t want to be out there after dark, okay?”
“Its fine with me.” He agreed as he drank down some of the burning drink.
“It’s just that one of them scarecrows got loose. I put up the lights to keep him from leaving the pasture at night. During the day, he stays on his post. But, nights...” The farmer’s hand shook as he downed the rest of his drink. “Oh, at nights he likes to prowl.”
Mark’s glass slipped from his fingers and fell to his lap, spraying the potent liquor all over his lap, but he didn’t feel it. He studied the posts outside the window in the distance as they began to light up, one after another yet again.
The farmer turned and chuckled. “Oh yes, he’s trapped now. He tries to wander and he sets them off.” He poured another glass of whiskey. “Yeah, it’s a good thing you got done before dark, son. You don’t want to know what happened to the last boy who worked here. Found him the next day, tied to the scarecrow’s post! I almost would have walked right past him, except I could smell the rotting flesh. It’s different than the pumpkin smell. He ain't without a sense of humor." The old man held his glass up to the lights in the distance. "He carved the boy's face up like a Jack O'Lantern." He chuckled and then finished off the liquor.
This is Dale the Doll. I got a video just for you followers....(keep my secret cause I know where your blogs are and I'll come and get ya if you tell!)