He hung high on a cross in the orchard all year round waiting for the right ones to come by, the right type to arrive for the sacrifice. With his head down, the mask on, those gangly old clothes and the straw hat, you’d swear his hollow eyes were following you around the place…
And they probably were.
However, he never struck anyone on their own; always did couples and only in Spring, just when the orchards were about to bloom. I’m not sure why he was going to do this – and yeah the townfolk called that thing ‘him’ and yet it wasn’t a person.
Or was it?
I never liked the place and didn’t like walking through there, even when I was on my way home in the afternoons from school. It just seemed as though he was looking – almost perving – at me. And I never let Jason walk me home or let anyone in town know I had a boyfriend in case they lined us up to be next on the sacrifice list.
Yeah, the townfolk were like that… anyone in love, they would line them up, make sure their car broke down in the dead zone just outside the orchard where phone reception was the shittiest and make sure it was the last week in the first month of Spring. At around midnight, I’d hear their blood-curdling screams for help echo across the valley, and yet wasn’t encouraged to race out and help those poor souls.
And you know, I really wished I could.
But truthfully, that’s why I’m out here tonight. It’s freezing cold. It’s the first week of Spring and I’ve just noticed something about this place, it doesn’t smell of Apple Blossoms… it smells like mint. I’ve armed myself with a shotgun full of salt and made sure I’ve trained up at school to run like the wind. Yeah, I’m not stupid. I’m not going to fall down like they do in the television shows and scream my head off uselessly.
That scarecrow expects that of humans.
But I’ve been here longer than most people and I hate what the people are doing to the tourists. I have figured out what they’re doing with the leftover cars and what happens to the bodies (and believe me when I say, you don’t want to know). How do I know? Um… well, I hid last year and found out what he did to them. Then had a huge problem sleeping for around three months… yeah, one the biggest problems with this place is that you can’t talk about the traditions here; and this scarecrow is one of them.
I’ve been sitting out here in the orchard for hours waiting for him to unhook himself from the crossbars, but all he does it just bloody well look at me. I’m freezing my butt off out here, leaning against this friggin’ apple tree waiting for him to take me away from this miserable life so I can do away with him, but he won’t… hang on, the mint is strong, and … shit, he’s off the crossbars!
Faster than I can pick up the gun, he’s on me, straddling my body, pinning me hard against the tree, stopping me from making any hasty moves against him. I begin to panic and struggle, but he doesn’t do anything, he just looks at me with that creepy-ass hat on, “Leave.” He says in my face.
“You and Jason are next.” His voice whispers, “Leave.”
I blink a few times only to find he’s back on the crossbars. Did I dream the whole thing? Or was it a warning for my boyfriend and me to get our butts outa here? It doesn’t matter… I’m gonna heed his warning and go.
After all, all I can smell right now is mint – the stuff is all up my nose and through my clothes.