TODAY’S BREW: An ulcerative amount of coffee.
This Flash Fiction Friday needed to be cool as hell because Dracula starts tonight and so AWESOME DAY FOREVER, ALL DAY LONG. We have a double header today! Later, you’ll get to read something a little different for us, a very cool story from Callie Armstrong, who I think is just fantastic. Right now, I’m PSYCHED to give you a piece by Joe Hart, author of Lineage, Singularity, and The River Is Dark. He’s doing 31 Days of Flash Fiction on his own blog, and EVERY SINGLE ONE is amazing, not to mention done in the sparest amount of words I’ve ever seen, and he is doing ALL of them. Imagination for days. Go check them out, you’ll be shocked and amazed. http://t.co/Y0U66xfRMP
Joe and I are internet roommates based on our mutual love of fall, hot drinks, alcoholic drinks, writing as kind of a living, and staring out the window. Critical in my Twitter feed, and just a fantastic friend, I present to you, Joe Hart.
“Scarecrow’s comin’ tonight, Jonesy.”
Jones looked at his older brother, his profile a shadow against the failing light of the sky.
“That’s bull and you know it.”
“Tough talk from a little fatty,” Bobby said, pinching several inches of the blubber that hung around Jones’s waist.
“Stop it, Bobby!” Jones said, slapping his hand away. He hitched his dirty overalls a little higher, adjusting them on his rotund body.
“You gonna cry?”
“No.” Jones kicked a rock on the dirt road. It rolled and bounced into the solid darkness of the ditch. Rows of corn waved in the night, a field of whispering leaves. Their pointed heads nodded in the waning light, an agreement with his brother’s words.
“It’s comin’, daddy even said so,” Bobby said, spitting at the side of the road as they walked.
“How come he lets you call him daddy? He always makes me call him reverend.”
“Because I don’t eat as much as you, chunky ass. I work hard and only take enough to get by. Mom and daddy appreciate that.”
“I don’t take more’n my share, I’m just so hungry after chores.”
“Well, daddy ain’t got the money to be feedin’ your gut, so he called the scarecrow to come take you away.”
Jones stopped dead in the road, the gravel crunched beneath Bobby’s feet and then stopped.
“You’re lyin’, Bobby.”
“Nope. I knew it was comin’ too, ever since them rows of corn came up and didn’t have no ears on ‘em, I knew.”
“Bull Bobby!” Jones felt warm tears glide down his face and he was thankful of the darkness.
Bobby walked toward him, his footsteps scratching the dirt. “It comes when there’s someone that needs takin’ care of, Jonesy, when a family’s goin’ hungry. It comes through the corn. Its arms are long and so are its fingers. It has a mouthful of sharp straw like needles and if it wants you, all it has to do is reach out, and GRAB YOU!”
Bobby punctuated his last words by jumping toward Jones and latching onto his upper arms. Jones tried not to cry out but failed, a pathetic whimper wheezing out between his teeth. Warm urine squirted once into his pants before he could clench it off.
Bobby released him and howled with laughter before falling silent.
“I hate you, Bobby.”
“Shhh, you hear that?”
“No, I mean it, be quiet.”
A gentle breeze eased down the deserted country road. The corn spoke in malicious whispers. The moon rose above the field, a rotting yellow eye.
“There it was again,” Bobby said, his voice low.
“I didn’t hear nothin’,” Jones said, peering past his brother, cursing the dying light of the sun while he willed the sick moon to rise faster.
Without another word, Bobby ran away from him, off the dirt road and down into the ditch. The first stalks of corn swayed with his brother’s passage and Jones stood rooted to the gravel, his mouth open in a silent cry.
Nothing. Jones’s eyes watered and he glanced up the dirt road.
Something stood in its center on the next rise, a humped shape darker than the rest of the night.
Jones sidled off the road and stumbled down into the ditch, his eyes never leaving the figure. When the reaching touch of a cornstalk grazed his arm, he moaned but dove headfirst into the tight rows.
The slim stalks brushed by him, their earless bodies looking like overgrown weeds. Jones half walked, half ran down the row, tripping and thrashing while his heart became the loudest sound in the world.
“Bobby?” Jones asked the night, praying for a response. When none came he moved further into the field and stepped into a large clearing completely devoid of corn.
It looked like a square, its corners definable even in the night. The moon’s yellow light slanted into the clearing and sprayed shadows across the soil, dark as motor oil. Jones waited, stunned by the existence of the opening. He took a tentative step forward.
A hand grabbed his wrist.
Jones began to cry out, terror scrambling his thoughts like a snapping livewire, but another hand, one he recognized now, clamped down over his mouth.
“Shhh, dummy, he’ll hear you.”
Jones turned around to face his brother who looked taller in the dark. He always wanted to be tall like Bobby, not heavy like he was.
“He’s back there,” Bobby whispered, throwing a thumb over his shoulder. “The scarecrow. He’s following us. We gotta cut across the clearing to the other side. Old man Carrol’s field is a half-mile away. We make it to that we can cut through his yard and into ours.”
“Bobby, I’m scared.”
“Don’t be, just run toward that other side when I tell you.”
Jones nodded, hoping his brother couldn’t see the fear that pulled his face tight. Bobby’s hand squeezed his shoulder once.
Jones ran. He ran faster than he ever had before. The ground sped by him and his belly jounced while his legs began to burn. The night air coursed past and his breath heaved in and out. He kept his eyes trained on the other side of the clearing, praying nothing would follow them through the corn once they reached it.
When he was three steps away from the wall of stalks, they parted, a figure materializing where none had been before. Jones slid to a stop and tried to run the other way, but fell in the dirt, a short mewl coming from his chest. The figure wore a brimmed hat and its shoulders were wide. Straw poked from its tattered clothing and when it stepped into the clearing, Jones saw that it carried something in its long-fingered hands.
The axe blade caught the moon’s light as it swung.
Bobby watched from across the field, hearing the wet chop that cut off his brother’s screams, and then the harder thunk of bone breaking beneath sharp steel.
“I told you you ate too much,” Bobby said.
After some time the sounds stopped and the scarecrow came closer, a dripping potato sack slung over its back. It stopped beside Bobby and placed a hand on his shoulder. Bobby stared up into its face and smiled.
“Can we go home now daddy?”
NOW GO BUY A BOOK, DAMMIT. GIVE IT TO SOMEONE FOR ALL HALLOW’S READ. http://www.amazon.com/Joe-Hart/e/B005YPWXX8/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1