FORWARD: Inkitt, apparently, has this new policy where chapters may no longer be over 10,000 words because their mobile app can't handle it (actually, I tested it, it can handle close to 18k words, but, I digress ((which also suggests to me they ought consider redesigning it to not load an entire chapter at once, but, whatever. Buffering, guys? AJAX works too)). Because of this, several chapters in this novel MUST be broken up into two or three different parts, which I feel breaks the flow of the story. I apologize for that in advance. It cannot be helped, and frankly it's disappointing as I have a very specific way in which I tell stories, and having someone tell me to do it differently just isn't cool.
Or, go to Amazon or Smashwords and spend a few bucks for the eBook version. Your call.
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And now, I give you...Scarecrow.
Thursday, March 23, 1995
O, what a tangled Webb we weave.
This was the message left on Austin Webb’s office desk via a blank business card a few days ago. At first, Austin believed the card to be a prank. That belief became short-lived when an old photo of John Myers arrived in his mailbox later that evening. Austin hadn’t seen John since 1970 when they were both students at Western Maryland College. Austin was also one of the few people to see John last before John disappeared off the face of the Earth. He knew where John was but lied about it in the investigation that followed. He swore to take that secret to his grave.
Now that same secret has threatened to rear its ugly head.
Austin paced the access road behind the bleachers of the Western Maryland College stadium. He was plenty nervous. A voice from his past was coming; a ghost Austin believed long gone. He knew this particular skeleton buried deep within his closet might not always stay silent. Its reveal would undoubtedly mean the end of his career and what was left of his marriage.
Bitter cold held the night hostage. Austin could see his breath with each anxious exhale. A strong gust of wind blew the remaining dead leaves that survived the winter across the concrete. Sweat beaded across his forehead with each step in spite of the cold.
Austin knew who was coming tonight even if it defied the laws of possibility. “It’s a joke,” Austin whispered to himself as he blew hot breath into his cupped hands. “It’s a goddamned joke. It has to be! Someone’s got a sick sense of humor!”
Which one of Austin’s comrades from his past would dare pull such a gag? Each thought led to the same person.
Stewart Boswell. It had to be him. Who else could possibly know?
“That little shit!” Austin snapped, under his breath. How could Stewart, even with his deranged personality, do something like this? There’d been a vow. There’d been a bond. Austin couldn’t believe Stewart would sink so low, even for a cheap laugh. But then Stewart also would have much to lose. It had to be somebody else. But who? Who else knew? The possibilities were minimal.
Austin heard footsteps behind him. He turned to meet them, to meet him.
“Yeah! I’m here, as you asked. Or should I say blackmailed.”
Austin’s bane laughed with self-righteousness. He stepped forward from behind the bleachers. Austin watched the condensation of foe’s breath blow out in long, calm breaths. He narrowed her eyes in an attempt to see his adversary more clearly. The darkness of the night prevented positive identification.
“Have you considered my proposal, Webb?”
“Who are you?” Austin demanded. “I know that voice!”
“Yes! You do!” he said, removing his baseball cap. Long, flowing blonde hair partially covered his face fell as it from his cap.
Austin gasped in horror. He threw his hands over his mouth and took a step back in surprise. “Johnny? Oh, my God! How is this possible?”
“Don’t act so surprised, Webb.”
“This is impossible!” Austin said, beginning to panic. “There is no way in hell this is possible!”
The now identified man laughed. “Funny you should mention hell....”