It Begins Again
Story by Wolvun
Somewhere, tucked away where the country life has not yet been swallowed up by the modern world, sits the town of Samhein.
Originally built as a farming community, there was very little that would be worth remembering about such a place. Students go to school, adults go to their jobs or the endless fields. The town stays afloat and the world keeps turning.
Except at the end of summer, while the chill of winter has yet begun nipping noses and the harvest yet brought in.
This is when the town’s tourism reaches its zenith. When room is plentiful. When visitors are invited, almost begged to come visit for as long as possible. Milking whatever they can to keep the town solvent.
But that is not the reason why their rooms become cheap. For, in October, a certain visitor arrives, coming with the longer nights and chill of Halloween.
Farmer Maxim’s field is one of half a dozen farm properties that can be seen at the city limits. Stalks standing in tall rows, thick with produce from a very bountiful season. Defending these vegetables from feathered scavengers are the scarecrows, standing tall atop their posts. Stuffed with hay and clad in the hand-me-downs that have weathered dozens of seasons. Each standing vigilant in every which way where the fiends of the sky may come.
A twitch, a shiver.
Something that the cooling wind has no blame in. The willowy arm bends slowly. The sharp elbow of the stick stretching the sleeve. Its other arm bending in as well before both extend in a stretch.
The post shakes as though the scarecrow is trying to get off. Shaking, struggling until a crack can be heard. A jagged part of the post coming off and guided into the empty pants leg. More struggling until a second crack and the scarecrow falls to the dirt. Its hat fluttering to hang from a stalk, exposing the top of the post where a head might have been.
The shamble of broken wood and hay staggers up. The broken parts of the post forced to be legs. Hobbling, swaying and staggering, stalks of corn snap as it proceeds forward. Dragging itself toward the town of Samhein.
Into the town, it trundles. The evening has nearly come to its end. The sun hanging low in the sky. Darkness ebbing over the town as its business dwindles. That isn’t to say that the town is empty. It is simply that its citizens know better. Curtains drawn. Doors bolted. Fireplaces closed as the figure of twisted wood continues its uneven gait.
Passing before the town’s simple steeple. A figure watching though the window of the empty building. What had once been a youthful face just that morning now twisted into a stern stony mask. Crossing herself silently as the creature continues its progress out of sight. Going to the steeple’s simple office and picking up the landline phone.
“It has arrived. Heaven save us”
The sun and the moon share the sky as the scarecrow crosses into the old section of Samhein, before the worn town hall where the Mayor sat. Natalie Jerson had been the mayor of this town going on thirty years now. She only felt the weight of those years when she saw the amalgamation before the building. Its gait improving as the broken post bits bottoms scraping into flatter surfaces.
Returning to her desk, Ms Jerson slides open with a click a dresser on her desk. Inside sits a book on the verge of falling apart. The spine in tatters, the papers spilling out into the dresser. Retrieving the book, she presses her forehead onto the worn cover.
Zero people. She wanted, she needed, to lose zero people this year. Zero!
Nearing the edge of the old town boundaries. Slogging along as it proceeds in the same determined manner. Heedlessly facing forward as it continues though the old residential area. Dozens of houses clustered together in the old country parody of the suburbs. Each house built years ago and full of personality.
The residents inside the houses, normally going about their quiet evenings with their TV and neighbors now watch the street avidly. Watching the creature solely though the street. The few street lights there are passing over the thing.
The exception though remains on her porch. In the open evening air as the scarecrow passes by. Stern, cold eyes watching the twisted wood go by. Her own wrinkled body could have been called twisted as well. Old scars on old wounds. Old abrasions that still shown white under the night sky. But the woman knew that the creature saw her. She was no longer afraid of it or the others.
Outside of town, the scarecrow slows down. Following along a heavily worn stone fence. Metal points no longer intimidating, covered with vines and moss..
Reaching a set of rusted fences, the snaking vines hung much thicker here. So much so that they were baring their produce.
A pumpkin sits beside the fence. Grown as if positioned there. While the other pumpkins in the fields around had only begun budding, this one sat ripe and grown. Far sooner than even the most talented green thumb could possibly have.
The scarecrow clumsily grasps the gourd. Losing a glove as it lifts it up. Though it does not appear bothered. Jamming the wooden post that was its arm into the vine. Severing it cleanly. Using its remaining hand to lift the pumpkin high before jamming it hard down onto the wooden post where its next would be.
Orange guts oozing down the wooden frame of the scarecrow. Seeping into the wood and hay. It must have been doing something for the creation. It stood taller now. Bolder. No longer hunched over as it had been doing all during this evening. The broken wood that it had been walking was becoming whole. The splinters seeping back in as the wood itself grow out. Forming proper legs as the insides of the pumpkin continued to dribble over it.
The stump that had been used to puncture the vine now stretched and flexed out newly formed fingers. One finger still a jagged point, to which the scarecrow drove into the pumpkin. Puncturing and cutting out chunks to form a jagged set of eyes and a crooked smile. Very little of the guts were left to spill out by this point. Just a single trail of the orange goo gathered over the shoulder. Seeping together and fluttering in the night breeze, almost like a scarf.
The empty hollow eyes gaze up into the night sky. Pinpricks in the darkness slowly sliding forward to become eyes. The crooked smile adjusting into a smirk. Reaching up and tugging on the stump of the vine. Pulling it longer and longer and twisting it. The shape contorting slowly until a witch’s hat sits atop the no longer orange head. Dark skin even in the night sky.
Serena had arrived.
Stretching, the witch leap with ease to stand atop the fences metal points. Her orange scarf fluttered behind her as she took in the land behind it. A lake in the distance, a forest peering over the perimeter fence. It made her smile.
She began to sing. A haunting melody of chanting and words lost to this era. Dancing atop the spikes without a worry. The moonlight shimmers. Flicking between light and shadow, a huge Mansion came to be from seemingly nowhere.
While Serena dropped onto the inside of the fence, another group hidden by the forest trees were climbing out. Clad in strange armor, each woman had a gag ball in their mouth. Each of them carried themselves like warriors, Barreling toward the houses, eyes burning intensely.
The stern-faced woman had not left the patio, even after the scarecrow left her sight. She did not react when the Mansion appeared in the distance. She merely sat and waited expectantly. Waiting until the ball gagged group came. From between the houses and up the street. Each of the woman appeared before her. Each of them taking a knee on the grass before the woman’s patio. Removing their gags so they hang from their necks.
Inside the house, a clock chimes 1.
As though on cue, the older woman stands. Looking over the gathered group of women.
“We have much to do. The supply lines need to be reconnected and the passages cleared. Serena may reign, but she will not reign easily while we breathe. No matter how much obedience she may get inside the Mansion, there will always be the Ill Manored in her mists, and one day, we will defeat her!”