Short Horror Story
Children frolicked carelessly as the glorious sun beat down. The cornfield was thriving with lustrous crops. Kids ran down tracks that had been left by the tractor days ago. Giggles and yells echoed through the rows of green and yellow. Acres and acres provided more than enough space for these rambunctious infants to run and play. They were high on excitement, giddy with energy. Which is why at first the screams went unnoticed by their flurry of happiness. But one by one, they came to a halt. Through the crops, they each found one another. But it didn't take long for them to realise a member of the group was missing.
They all stood in their overalls, questioning the absence of Fred. Fred was the youngest of the group, at six years old. Thick golden hair, freckles covering his face, and always wearing a cheeky, mischievous grin. He was unpredictable and possibly the most boisterous of the gang. Greta, the oldest of the girls, at nine years old, decided they should look for him. So one by one they separated, shouting his name. Each walked off in a different direction, scavenging the place for their young companion. They looked behind trees, through the bulky plantation, and Darren was just about to enter the barn in search of Fred. When another scream rattled in the air. This came from Greta. The other children barged through the crops, being slapped in the face by leaves and corn. Until they came to see her stood, a ghostly pallor lightening her face.“Greta,” one of the boys said delicately.But the young girl remained frozen. Strands of red hair blew up in a gust of wind as she was glued to the ground. The only part moving was that of her hands. Fingers trembled and wrists twitched. The kids wandered to their oddly still friend, only to see what had caused this lack of motion in her. A tractor was just beyond them. With a mangled, dismembered child caught in the blades. Red splatters painted the metal. Body organs were tangled in machinery, some sprawled on the floor. Each limb was spread out, pulled taught. Arms, legs, torso, and head. All separate now. Bones tore through the flesh. Crimson pools were below each limb, catching droplets of blood every few seconds.“But I didn't hear the tractor.... how did we not.....” Greta mumbled, still in shock.It was then that she saw something odd. Floating above the crops, suspended on a wooden plank, was a scarecrow. Evil dark eyes, straw bulging from mouldy clothing, a hat leaving an ominous shadow over its face, and a sinister smile. Greta had never liked the scarecrow, or scarecrows in general. They gave her the creeps. How their only job was to scare. How it hung from the wooden planks making a cross, reminded her of the suffering that had been inflicted upon Jesus. Which was ironic, as Jesus was a sign of everything good and pure. But this heinous creation looked malicious.“Has that always been here? I thought it was further into the field?” one of the younger boys asked anxiously.As it turned out, he was asking about the scarecrow. Their gazes had slowly drifted from the massacred young boy, to the straw constructed person high in the air, looking down. It then occurred to Greta that Todd was right. It shouldn't be there. Greta's father, who owned the fields, had placed him directly in the middle of the crops. They had just been playing in the outskirts. No where near the scarecrow. And Greta knew her father wouldn't move it. Also, before they started playing, she remembered seeing it far out into the field. Which meant only one of two things had occurred. Someone had intentionally moved it. Or it had somehow moved by itself.
Eager to get away from the dismembered body of their friend and the creepy scarecrow, they ran to Greta's father. They barged through the kitchen of the rustic farmhouse. The mother was chopping vegetables by the sink, while the father was reading a newspaper whilst enjoying a hot mug of coffee. Both of them jerked at the abrupt appearance of the children.“What the hell is going on?” Heisel could read their panic stricken faces.The mother quickly dried her hands with a kitchen towel and paced over to the kitchen table Heisel was sat at. The bundle of children were breathing heavy and tears lined their eyes. But Heisel and his wife Gertrude really started to worry when they saw specks of blood on their clothing.“Greta! Answer me this instant!” Heisel ordered, nervous.That's when Gertrude noticed the absence of the youngest of the group, Fred.“Hold on, where's Fred? Wasn't he out there playing with you?”And by the wave of grief creasing the infants faces, Gertrude got her answer, just before her daughter Greta mumbled through an eruption of hysterical tears.“He's dead mummy!”
The next hour was madness. Children screaming in sorrow, the parents trying to get hold of Fred's family, calling the police, and being taken to the location of the accident. Soon enough the relaxing Sunday afternoon had become bedlam. Cop car sirens, forensic investigators, child physiologists questioning the children, and Heisel being told he was not allowed to work on that field until all his tools and machinery had passed vigorous safety tests. Which didn't matter as his stock was ruined. Tyre treads, holes in the ground from analysis tents, and other equipment had destroyed his only source of income. Business was already slow, this would bankrupt Heisel if he didn't think of a way around it.By the end of the day, Greta and her parents simply sat in silence. They all toyed with their food, unable to eat, appetites destroyed as a side-effect of the dead boy. The day lingered in their minds. The interviews, cop cars, alarms, shrieks, flashing cameras, yellow tape, and of course, the massacred body. But what really clung in everyone's mind, was the mystery behind this crime. Nobody could figure it out. It was practically impossible for a young child to start that tractor, and even more so, move the cylinder. But that was the only explanation Officer Brentworth could come up with, for now. The investigation was still ongoing, until the real answered was determined. How the tractor had been started, and a child had managed to get mangled in the cylinder of it.“More coffee?” Gertrude asked Heisel.“Yes...” he groaned.Neither had a craving for any food, but knew it would be a restless night. Coffee was required. So Gertrude poured the steamy black liquid into two mugs and clonked them onto the kitchen table.“Honey, would you like some water?” Gertrude asked her daughter sympathetically.Greta simply shook her head, looking down, miserable.“You really ought to eat something sweety,” she said, feeling very hypocritical.“I can't mummy, I just.....can't....” Greta chewed her lip to keep from crying.“Okay, well go get ready for bed, it's getting late,” Gertrude took a swig from her mug, at the same time her husband did.“It's the scarecrow who did it...” Greta grumbled, but both parents heard.“Stop this nonsense right now young lady!” Heisel yelled, thudding his cup onto the table and sloshing coffee everywhere.“But dad,” Greta tried to speak gently, as to not anger her father, who looked as if he was bordering on a mental breakdown.“Enough! Now go and get ready for bed!” he ordered.Greta scattered away and ran upstairs as Gertrude grabbed a kitchen towel and dabbed at the pool of coffee on the table.“You know Heisel...” she lifted his mug and wiped beneath it.“It is odd how the scarecrow was near the tractor, you have never had it so close to the edge before..”“Oh for God's sake! You too?” Heisel screeched the chair across the linoleum as he began to stand.“Just think about it for a second will you?” Gertrude pleaded.“No I won't! Do you hear how ridiculous you sound? Taking the word of a child,” he pitied her.“Not just a child. Children,” she corrected him.“What?” he questioned, curious, now standing near the sink.Gertrude fussed and tidied the table, “All the children said the same thing when interviewed by the detectives and psychologists.”“How do you know that?” he asked.“I was told by the detectives,” she piled the dishes and took them to the kitchen counter, aside the sink.“Yes but... what are you suggesting Gertrude?” he asked, now believing her, but still perplexed.“I don't know Heisel, I am just saying we shouldn't dismiss this.”Gertrude scraped food from the plates into the garbage disposal. She couldn't help but notice the silence and lack of movement from Heisel.“Heisel?” she asked, piling dishes in the sink, running the hot water.He stood, staring out the window just aside the sink, unusually still. Gertrude became suspicious and as she washed the dishes with apple scented dish soap she also glared outside. Just under the glow of the moon, far out into the field, was the scarecrow. But something was odd about its location. The tractor could be seen, along with the police tape, and the scarecrow was no longer near the crime scene. Somehow, it had moved further out into the crops.“Oh my god...” Gertrude uttered as she half-heartedly rubbed a sponge over a plate.“Its moved!”
“No...no....there has to be some mistake..” Heisel prayed, clearing his throat.“There is no mistake, it has moved Heisel. I don't know how, but it has,” Gertrude said, foam filling the sink.“What do we do?” he asked, undeniably nervous.“We have to go out there,” she advised.“Are you kidding? We need to call the police!” he shouted.“And say what? That a scarecrow moved on its own? That would just get us locked up and you know it.”“But what good would it do to go outside?” he asked, convinced they should stay inside and away from it.“I don't know. Investigate? See if something looks unusual? I mean what if something is wrong with that scarecrow?” Gertrude asked the question Heisel had hoped she wouldn't.He couldn't believe they were even having this conversation, let alone contemplating the existence of a supernatural entity.“I.....just....” he stammered, unable to think of anything to say.“Let me put it this way Heisel,” his attention refocused on her words.“What if we do nothing, and the next time a kid dies under suspicious circumstances, it's Greta.”A lightening bolt of bravery and courage suddenly shot through him. Alongside the paternal instinct to protect Greta. Gertrude turned off the tap and dried her hands yet again with the fluffy kitchen towel.“You know what we have to do, we have to go out and see what's wrong,” she insisted.Considering the fate of his daughter, and that of innocent children, he went to the back door and began stepping into his work boots. Gertrude followed him and slipped into a pair of brown leather shoes. Both threw on a jacket and unlocked the door. The moment it opened a violent rush of wind howled into the house. Both took a deep breath and left the warmth and safety of their home, and entered the cold uncertainty of the field.
They crept through the crops, alert and aware, tingling with anticipation. The edge was lit by the light coming from the house. So for now they were bathed in unnatural house light projections, giving the false impression of safety. Because as they both knew, the minute they entered the swarming darkness, fear would soon follow. Crops crunched underfoot, and brushed by them like passengers rushing off a train. Gusts blew hard, as if acting as a warning of the turmoil yet to come. Gertrude slipped her hand into the trembling grasp of her husband's. Both were now close to total darkness, the moon betraying them by emitting very little light. Then it came, blackness. The occasional glint of the moon bouncing from the green, and the tractor not to far in front. As they approached, the yellow police tape shook ferociously in the wind. Steady steps eventually got them to the tractor and the mayhem it had brought that very day. Blood still polluted everything. Red splotches staining crops, and the soil at their feet moist with various body fluid's from Fred's mutilated corpse. Not forgetting the blades of the tractor caked in it. Never would Heisel be able to look at that tractor again, without reliving the memory of discovering the child's mangled body. He dread the next time he got into that thing. Gertrude was less focused about the area they were in, and concentrating more on the scarecrow floating above the crops in the distance. The moon was its allie, blessing the horrific creation with spooky and disconcerting shadows.“Come on,” she urged her husband onwards.Both of their grips tightened considerably, as their nervousness excelled. They shuffled around the tape and entered more darkened plants. Wind continued to whistle, forcing its way through the cornfield, harassing everything it could. Green swayed, trees in the distance quivered and the barn aside the field creaked. Its wood being tested. They were in a void of mystery, the only visible object in their visions was that of the scarecrow. It was a silhouette given a dark shape by the moon just behind it. The straw body nailed to the wood. Tattered and dirty clothing hung from it. What Heisel noticed scared him more than he cared to admit. Everything in sight was bowing down to the admirable force of the powerful breeze, except the scarecrow's clothing. He knew what materials attired the creepy crow scarer. There was cotton, thin denim, corduroy, and other lightweight fabrics. They should be flipping and flapping every way. But they remained still. Dead-still. In fact, every inch of it was motionless. He wondered if Gertrude had noticed that. But he didn't want to alarm her further if she was oblivious.“Not much farther,” Gertrude whispered, voice shaky.The reality of the situation sunk deeper into Heisel as they advanced to the unknown. Something occurred to him. What if it was a man dressed up? A murderer? An escaped convict? Criminally insane individual? The choices were mounting up, piling on his already high anxiety, not helping at all. So he tried his best to shrug of his irrational concerns. Until they were soon stood just underneath it and his attention was fully focused on that, and nothing else.“What now?” Heisel impatiently asked.Gertrude simply shrugged in response.“This was your idea Gertrude!” he yelled, and instantly regretted that outburst as it echoed through the field.“Oh!” she flung a finger into the air. But not for long, and shoved it into her jacket pocket.Heisel stood cold and on edge, while she fumbled, eventually bringing out a small torch.“You only just realised you had that now?” Heisel had to admit he was irritated.“Well yes, I always carry one. The amount of times I have to come out here to tell you dinner's ready is ridiculous, and it's usually night time. So I bought a cheap one to always have on me,” she clicked the small metal piece and the bulb broke yellow into the atmosphere.Unfortunately the ray immediately hit upwards, projecting light onto the scarer.“Oh dear God, I was right...” one of Heisel's earlier anxieties was actually reality.“Oh no....”Their mouths hung agape as they were just comprehending what it was they were gawking at. The bloody body of a man. Hay stuck to his flesh with redness, hat resting atop an almost fully skinned head. Any less skin and the identity of the man would be impossible to detect. Every piece of fabric and cloth was saturated in crimson. It still dripped onto the ground.“That's....he is the.....” Gertrude muttered.Then the recognition also smacked Heisel in the head. That wasn't just any corpse, it was that of a police officer. One of the cops that had been investigating the incident only hours earlier. It was a shock they could even identify the bloodshed. One of his eyeballs had been removed, leaving a gaping cavity in the gory skull.“No no no..... what did this?” Gertrude spoke through frightened tears.At that very second something rustled nearby. The couple instantly seized all respiring and talking, honing their focus in on the unknown noise. It was getting louder. Closer.“What's that?” Heisel asked, not sure he even wanted an answer.Until it sprang through the murk. Unstoppable, unnatural and terrifying. It took only a few seconds for the thing to annihilate them. But not before Gertrude could release an almighty shriek.
***Greta had been snivelling into a tear-stained pillow when a loud scream broke her wailing. The young girl instantly jerked up in bed. Face wet, and throat sore from crying. She hopped from the mattress and paced to the bedroom door.“Mum? Dad?” she shouted through the door.The only noise was silence, the dissolution of sound. It slithered into the air, bringing with it an unnerving feeling that crawled on Greta's spine. Cautiously, she inched open the door and peered into the hallway. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Save for the odd quiet which was interrupted by Greta's door creaking. Greta strolled to the stairs, head whipping from left to right, and leant over the bannister.“Mum? You down there?”No reply. Which was strange. Normally she would be scrubbing dishes or doing a load of laundry. And it wasn't uncommon for Getrude to be humming an old tune whilst doing so. But Greta knew that this Sunday had been far from normal. The slaughter of a young child could cause crazy, irrational behaviour. Most likely did. Greta tiptoed down the steps, jittery and uncomfortable. There was the slight sound of wind whistling outside. At second thought Greta considered the possibility that the shriek she'd heard was actually just that of the weather. That all this was silly and irrational fretting. But that still did not explain the absence of her parents. It was normal for Heisel to sometimes sit on the porch and drink a coffee, enjoying blissful solitude and keeping an eye on the field. Or go keep his hands busy and work in the barn. But in this weather, it was highly doubtful he would venture outside for any reason. At this temperature it wasn't out of character for him to slouch in front of the TV and watch the news, cradling a mug of piping hot coffee or an ice cold beer; while Gertrude teetered around performing housework. But as far as the eye could see, neither were here. Greta approached the bottom of the stairs. No TV blaring, the ruckus the washer usually made didn't vibrate. Greta sensed something was very wrong. She paced through the house, alert for anything suspicious. But other than the truancy of Heisel and Gertrude, nothing was out of the ordinary. That was, until she came to the kitchen. In specific, the back door. No shoes on the matt, no coats on the hanger. They had ventured outside.
Greta prayed she was wrong, but knew that was the only possibility. They had travelled outside, no doubt unable to break from thoughts of the day's tragedy. Maybe mother had gone to help dad in the barn? Or clear up after the investigation left the crops in ruin? Greta wasn't sure they were allowed to move or disturb anything. But the police had been and photographers had taken snaps of the nightmare, so maybe they could. As she stood in the middle of the kitchen, Greta noticed more strangeness. Dishes were left in the sink. This suggested they left in a hurry. In her whole life Gertrude had never left anything that needed to be washed. She would only start a task that could be finished there and then. This was even more unnerving than their unknown location. Greta wandered to the sink, a scent of apple becoming prominent, which she assumed was dish soap. Dishes peeked from soapy water as Greta continued to grow more anxious. Her glare soon transpired from the bubbly water containing soiled pottery, to the window. In the field there was three scarecrows. Into the distance, beyond the scene of death, was three wooden crosses side by side. Greta couldn't make any sense of it. Curious, she made her way to the back door and peered through the window. The dismal light made it hard to see anything nearby, let alone a mile into the crops. The light in the kitchen also made it difficult to see beyond her reflection. Greta noticed how red her face was, and how messy hair sat atop her head like a scruffy cat. The moisture from tears still coated her puffy cheeks. That was when the face of a scarecrow came into sight, looking straight into Greta's eyes. Greta lost her breath at the straw abomination. A sun hat, and dark, malicious eyes were embedded in and around the hay. But panic really caused a racing heart when she realised that the scarecrow wasn't being viewed on the porch, but as part of the reflection. It was stood directly behind her.
Not thinking, acting rash and impulsive, preserving safety, Greta ran. She threw the door open, launching outside without a second thought. Barefoot and in a silk nightgown, pain was soon her best friend. Lumpy, hard dirt stabbed the soles of her feet with every step the second she left the smooth wood of the porch. But at the same time the wind came like a freight train. It whipped the nightgown up and sent freezing slashes of cold air onto her little legs. Greta couldn't decide which was worse. Then with the addition of some supernatural monster that resembled a scarecrow chasing her, it was a miracle she was still conscious. But brave and determined, Greta ran. Crops thrashing her face, sharp objects spiking her feet, and the temperature dropping fast the further she moved into the field. Soon light from the house no longer acted as a mentor in the journey. Darkness came like an unsuspecting killer. The creature continued running with alarming speed, panting like a dog. Greta could hear this, and thus continued on, light or no light, pain or no pain. The tractor framed in police tape came into focus. The little light that was out there bounced off the metal carcass, dripping in blood. But Greta noticed the scarecrow had in fact moved. And there was now three of them! From the safety and warmth of the house, it was just speculation. Now up front and personal, it was a confirmed belief. The demon still unrelenting made Greta push past the scene of a young boy's untimely, premature and questionable demise, and further into the dangerous abyss.
Greta's chest burned as her legs began to ache. She wasn't sure how much longer she could go, energy was dwindling rapidly. Then something distracted her. A smell. A fungal, bloody odour becoming more intense with every second. As the three wooden posts became more clear, so did the stench. They worked hand in hand. Until intelligence hit. Greta concluded that whatever hung from the posts must be causing the smell. Under normal circumstances Greta would flee the reeking vileness. But being pursed by an evil entity shook any rationality and common sense that still remained. Until there was nothing left but self-preservation and gut instinct. As Greta continued to run she spun out of control and went flying through the crops and out into an open space in the middle of the field. The foul smell was like a blow to Greta's stomach as she landed in slop. A sludgy, slimy pool mixed with dirt. Panting and panicking she quickly scurried and was about to continue fleeing when she looked up. The middle post was bare, an empty cross of moist wood. But at the base was the corpse of a man. Greta uncontrollably screamed into the night. Blood soiled this man, who wore a part of a police uniform. It was a sight that would haunt the young girl for eternity. Greta's body at a loss of how to react, fell backwards. Yet again the goo made contact with her nightgown, drenching it. That was all she could think about until she noticed that the other two posts weren't empty. Bodies were hammered to them. Naked bodies missing arms and legs. Bloody torsos with little heads. The faces distorted in terror. Guts and intestines swung from the massacred corpses, oozing blood, adding to the ever-expanding puddle of fluid. But regardless of their condition, Greta instantly knew the faces. The two cruelly slaughtered bodies belonged to Heisel and Gertrude. Greta shrieked, sopping whilst doing so. Tears dampened her face as she wailed into trembling hands. She couldn't bare to look at the bodies for a second longer. That was a sight that would no doubt haunt Greta for as long as she lived. But then Greta remembered she was out here for a reason. There was a strange, deadly predator in pursuit, not far away. Just then crunching could be heard behind, no doubt the demon. But surprisingly she could care less. A world without parents was an existence she didn't favour, a life that would not be worth living. Organs still fell from the torsos as she grieved their merciless passing, mourning the loss of two innocent human beings who she adored very much. But anger was also present. A deep fury at this monster who had just come along and murdered, very insanely, a bunch of people who had done nothing wrong. This emotion sustained her even when sharp claws slashed. Even when teeth chomped down, skin was peeled, bones were broken, and a will to live or fight was destroyed.
Unlike Greta's parents, her own mutilated carcass wore the expression of misery. Not fear. Not horror. But a deep depression and sorrow. An eternal ache that was embedded into her soul. These were the expressions also worn by the police and paramedics the following day as they came to the scene of another unimaginable crime. The death of a law enforcer, two parents and their child. This dominated the news for weeks, along with another rash of grizzly deaths that eventually came to an end. Never able to determine what was doing it. But little did anyone know, that the deaths hadn't stopped, but simply relocated. The scarecrow was working its way through America, slowly but surely killing the populace, until extinction of the human race was inevitable. And scarecrows would reign on earth.
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