The Scarecrow

What does Halloween mean to you? A night when you can wear a costume and get candy? Is it your favorite holiday? Perhaps not?

There is a world where Halloween is the only official holiday. People who don’t need costumes or masks to be frightening consider the revels of this night the best of the entire year. It’s the only time they can mix freely with humans without pretending. But they don’t come for the candy.
***insert spooky music and laughter here***

***Chapter 1: The Haunted House***
“Welcome to Oohay!” the computer declared cheerfully when Ed logged into her instant messenger. The teenager made a face and pressed mute.

Her laptop silenced, Ed scanned her list of contacts and quickly clicked on one.

Vmprlvr: Hey bro. Long time no see. How ya been?

Shepherd: I’m doing good. How ‘bout u? looking forward 2 Halloween,little sis?

Vmprlvr: ‘course. Already got my costume ^-^

Shepherd: There’s an awesome haunted house on Broom Avenue. U should go. Can’t miss it, big abandoned house. Well, I gotta get to work. C ya later Eddy.
***Shepherd has logged out***

With her brother gone there was no one interesting for Ed to talk to so she turned her laptop off and went downstairs to hunt for some breakfast.

With spoon in hand and cereal before her she contemplated her Saturday. Ed had barely spoken with her brother, Germaine, since he’d started college the year before. She decided she’d try his haunted house.

She finished her cereal and slung her survival bag over one shoulder. It contained a dull pocket knife, a cell phone, a camera, a cheeto bag (in case she got hungry), and a water bottle filled with dark red cranberry juice (for the off chance she met a vampire, who might also be hungry). Ed was prepared.

Her brother was right about the abandoned three story house, with its unkept lawn, being impossible to miss among the perfectly maintained tract houses of Broom Avenue. All the other houses were exactly the same, color and all, so the overgrown wooden shack stood out like a sore thumb.

Only thing was it didn’t seem like someone was running a haunted house in it. It really was deserted.

Ed began to feel nervous but she fought her way through the tall grass that wrapped around her ankles, trying to trip her. She managed to get to the rickety porch which creaked loudly as she walked across it. She wondered if the wood was rotten and feared it would break under her.

Her brother was right about it being a good haunted house. She wasn’t in yet and already sweating. The windows were dark, it really seemed like nobody was here.

Unwilling to have to tell her brother that she’d chickened out, if he ever asked if she had gone, she steeled herself and opened the door. The darkness rushed out, grabbed her, and pulled her inside before she could react. The door slammed shut after her.

***Chapter 2: The Vampire’s Castle***
Ed woke up sprawled on the cold marble floor of a dimly lit hallway. She looked blearily about as she sat up. The hallway was lined with closed doors on both sides. The flickering light came from torches placed every few feet. She could hear whispery voices but no one was in sight. She stood up slowly, her legs felt shaky. I must be dreaming.

She heard the door behind her open and spun around hurriedly, smacking into the person standing in the doorway. She fell down with a thump and the person gasped in surprise.

Wincing, she rubbed her sore backside and studied the tall figure ruefully. He wore what resembled a long brown old fashioned monk’s robe. He had shaggy dark brown hair that he wore loose down around his shoulders and neck. Though that was all she could see of his features because he wore a square wooden mask and in the dim light she couldn’t even make out his eyes.

“It worked!” he cried, scooping her up and spinning around for a moment. “Well done, Eddy!”

Ed was dazed, only registering that she didn’t recognize his hoarse voice. He sounded like he had a sore throat. “How do you know my name?”

As abruptly as before the man stopped dead, setting Ed back on her feet, her eyesight swam dizzily. “You have to get outta here.”

He started towing her through the hallway immediately. “Wait. Where am I? What do you mean I have to go? What’s going on?!” she tried to pull her hand free and dug her heels into the floor.

He tightened his hold on her hand and tugged her off balance and kept going. They entered a large dining room, a long table down the length of it and a crystal chandelier overhead.

“This is no place to talk. I’ll answer your questions in a few minutes, please be patient, Eddy.” She was struck again by the fact that he knew her name. He hurried her through the room but Ed noticed that the table was set for a meal, all the glasses were already filled with… is that red wine?

On the far side of the room there was a table set on a dais with a throne by it. The table had only one place setting. There was a door behind the dais, most likely for servants.

Voices rang through the room and the man hastily pushed Ed out of sight behind the dais. She peered cautiously out of her hiding place and watched a young man approach. He had well trimmed black hair tied back with a red ribbon and wore fine red clothes. It looked like a costume of a medieval nobleman. With his red eyes and extremely pale skin he made the perfect vampire.

“What are you doing here? I would hate for my subjects to make my most learned guest into an appetizer. I really must insist you return to the chambers I have provided you.”

“Sorry,” the masked guy replied, “my lord.” he added hastily. “I just wanted to get some fresh air. It’s getting kind of stuffy in here without any windows.”

The vampire inclined his head, smiling graciously. Ed couldn’t help but shiver even though his face was pleasant. “Very well. Take care though, It would displease me if you allowed yourself to be harmed. Call on my name for protection, if need be. Though it would be my preference that such were not necessary.”

The monk bowed his head after a moment. “Alright, I got the point, Lord Arco. I won’t be out long. I’ll be fine.”

Without another glance at the vampire the monk slipped behind the dais, shooing Ed through the door before him. He closed the door quickly behind himself, as if fearing being followed.
***Chapter 3: The Scarecrow***
The monk led her through the servants’ hall and out a wooden door. It was twilight, everything bathed in an orange light. They walked down a well worn path which led to a bridge.

Once across the bridge Ed looked back and saw that they had come out of a large stone castle surrounded by a
moat. That’s a new addition to Broom Avenue. And I thought the wood house was out of place…

The monk breathed a sigh of relief when they entered the forest and were out of sight of the castle. He turned to face her and Ed was pretty sure he was grinning behind the mask. He reached up as if to remove it but an orange young man wearing ragged clothes burst into the clearing and hit the monk over the head with a sturdy branch.

The masked guy dropped, out c old. The new stranger grabbed Ed’s hand and dragged her away. Great… first Masked Man of Mystery, now Mr. Pumpkin. I’m getting tired of being led around without any answers.

“Okay, I’ve had enough!” Ed declared, pulling her hand free. The orange man turned and smiled at her. He had a wide gap=toothed grin. She saw that his face really did seem to be made of a pumpkin. His hair was straw and his clothes made from a sack. “What are you supposed to be?”

“A scarecrow, of course. My name is Straw…” he paused for a moment, screwing his face up angrily. “No! My name is Shawn! Stop calling me Straw!”

“I didn’t call you Straw,” she assured him, holding back the urge to sigh.

The scarecrow stared at her in bewilderment for a moment then broke out grinning again. “Yeah, sure. Pleased to meet you,” he held out his glove hand.

Ed blinked at him. “Don’t you ask the other person’s name before you say that?”

“If you want,” the scarecrow replied easily. She began to think whatever brain he had inside his pumpkin must not have that much thought capacity.

“Well,” she said after a silent moment that passed without the scarecrow’s grin faltering in the least, “My name is Ed.” She shook the hand that he had never lowered.

She immediately regretted this when Shawn gripped her hand tightly and took off jogging. “Let’s get outta the forest before Lord Arco finds out I clubbed his guest.”

Ed finally allowed herself to sigh. Once more she was being forcibly led around, and still without any explanations. She was getting annoyed and frustrated with all this.





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