I hate scarecrows. I have ever since I was little. I found something about the dolls stuffed with straw unsettling. I remember my parents tried to help me get over this fear by telling me things like, “They’re not scary, they only want to be friends” or some other lame line to get me to lighten up. When I got older, my fears began to fade. Scarecrows still weren’t my favorite things in the world, but they weren’t the nightmare fuel they used to be. This all changed, however, after the events that took place last Halloween.
It was almost the weekend before Halloween and my friends were planning on hosting a party at one of their apartments.
“You should come, Jo,” my friend Dennis said one morning before classes. “Exams will be taking over our lives soon, so might as well have a little fun.” I tapped my fingers on the side of my to-go cup before taking a sip of my latte.
“You’re acting like nobody has parties during exams.” I retorted. “I’m sure I won’t be missing much.” I was never really someone that enjoyed parties, even when I got to college. Truth is, I never got anything out of them other than a hangover and makeup stains on my pillow.
“It’s not just any party, it’s a Halloween party,” said Dennis. “You can’t tell me you aren’t just a little bit interested in dressing up.” I looked down at the floor, catching a glimpse of my backpack laying under the cafeteria table. It was true that projects were stressing me out. I supposed it would be fun to spend one night thinking about something else for a change.
“Fine,” I answered. “I’ll give it a try.” Dennis smiled.
“Awesome! It’s not too far from your place actually, so if you hate it you can just, you know, leave.” I raised an eyebrow.
“You wouldn’t let a girl walk home alone from a college party, would you?”
“Well… no… but I just meant–”
“I’m joking,” I laughed. “I’m capable of handling myself. And if I do feel unsafe, I’ll just call a cab or something.” Dennis sighed and gave me a playful nudge before we went our separate ways.
The week went by faster than expected. Before I knew it, it was the night of the party. I had picked up a pirate costume from a local party store the night before. It wasn’t really that creative, but I didn’t feel like this would be the type of crowd that would care. At 9:30 pm, I got a call from Dennis.
“Hey, are you here?” I asked, answering the phone.
“Yup! I’m outside,” he replied. I hung up and slid my cell into my pocketbook. When I walked out of my building, I was greeted by Dennis and his Honda Civic.
“I thought you said the party was close,” I said, confused. “Why do we need your car?”
“Oh, shit!” Dennis exclaimed after I closed the passenger side door. “I forgot to tell you, it changed. It’s cool, though – it’s at this other dude’s house that we know. It’s close to the woods.”
“That sounds a little creepy,” I said, laughing nervously.
“Oh, no, it’s fine,” Dennis reassured me. “I know the guy that’s throwing it. He’s great. The house is also massive, so he’s letting people stay if they want.”
“Well, that’s a relief,” I answered.
We were on the road for about 45 minutes before we got to the house. It looked like we were some of the last people to arrive, as a lot of the students were already spilling out onto the porch. The night progressed how I imagined it would, with drunk college kids being their debaucherous selves. To my surprise, I was having a fun time, and everything was going well. That is, until I overheard a conversation between two of the guests.
“They still haven’t found her? Yeah, she’s dead,” said one of the guys whose face was made up like a clown’s.
“Either that, or trapped in some psycho’s basement,” said the other, who was dressed as a skeleton. I walked up to the two boys.
“Hey,” I said, “mind if I ask what you guys are talking about?” The two boys looked at one another and then back at me.
“Some girl that goes to our school went missing, like, two weeks ago,” said the clown. “The last time anyone saw her was at that fair with the giant corn maze.” I tilted my head to the side. I remembered hearing something about a missing student, but I didn’t know the details of what happened.
“Yeah,” said the skeleton, interrupting my train of thought. “She was hot, too.”
“Really?” the clown asked with disdain, giving his friend a disapproving stare.
“What? It’s true.” I started walking away from the two of them when I heard something. It sounded like a whimper or a whistle. I looked back at the two boys for confirmation. They looked at me and acknowledged that they too had heard the strange sound.
“Hey, turn down the music for a second!” yelled the clown. A girl wearing a Wednesday Addams costume adjusted the volume on a pair of speakers set up in the corner of the room. “Everyone, just shut the hell up!”
The room went silent for a moment. Just as we were about to dismiss it as nothing important, we heard it again. This time, it was clear. A scream. Everyone in the room raced to the windows that overlooked the driveway to see what was happening. I squeezed into a spot by one of the windows and looked out. A girl stood in front of the porch screaming for help and clutching her stomach. I recognized her as one of the people who was sitting outside when we first got there. The boy dressed as the skeleton opened the window so that we could hear what was going on.
“He’s dead!” she cried as she approached a group that had gone outside. “He’s dead! She killed him!”
“Who’s dead!? What happened!?” a voice asked. The girl took one more step towards the group and then stopped.
“He’s… dead…” she said one last time before taking her hands off her abdomen. As she did this, her intestines spilled out onto the pavement, and the house filled with screams.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even think. All I could do was stare at the sight of the gory mess as people frantically tried to help the dying girl. Suddenly, something in the corner of my eye snapped me out of my trance. I turned my head slightly, looking towards the line of trees just beyond the driveway. There, standing next to a tall pine tree, was what looked like a scarecrow. From what I could see, it was wearing a ripped-up old sweatshirt, and bits of straw were popping out of small holes. As my vision adjusted, I realized that this scarecrow had distinctly female features. Just then, the strange figure moved and looked at the window. My heart dropped, but I managed to find my voice.
“In the trees!” I screamed. Someone shined a flashlight along the tree line. When the light connected with the creature, it quickly took off into the inky dark. In that short period of time, however, I managed to see the thing that had been stalking us. It was a girl that couldn’t have been any older than the guests at the party. She had light, matted hair, and the pale skin on her face was stitched into a fake smile and sewn into fabric on her neck. The sweatshirt she wore barely covered what appeared to be small razors where her hands should have been. Worst of all, however, were her eyes. They were totally white and void of life, almost corpse-like.
It didn’t take long for the police to arrive. The injured girl was taken to a hospital where she remained in critical condition for some time. When she eventually came to, she revealed that she and her boyfriend had gone into the woods the night of the party. She claimed that something attacked them, killing her boyfriend and wounding her. When the police went back to check the area, there was no sign of the boy or the creature. Everyone at the party was questioned, including me. I told the police about the figure I saw, going into detail about her appearance. Instead of dismissing my claims, they seemed genuinely invested and continued to ask me questions about the creature. Towards the end of the interrogation, I was shown a photo of a girl.
“That’s her!” I said, pointing at the photo. “That’s the girl!”
“Are you absolutely positive?” one of the officers asked. I nodded.
“Why?” I responded. “Who is that?” The man held up the photo.
“This is Cecelia Bowman,” he replied. I stared at the photo. The name sounded familiar to me. The officer continued. “She’s a student that went missing a couple of weeks ago.”
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