Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scarecrow: A short story for Halloween.

            The fall day dawned bright and clear over the mountains of Colorado.  Yoshi was practically pressed against the glass of the car’s windows as she watched the grand mountain vistas dressed in their autumn finery parade passed the glass as we followed the winding road.  We had been invited to visit an old friend of mine, Robert Williams.  When I knew him he was Sergeant Williams, United States Army.  Now he was Chief Williams in charge of the small police force that patrolled Buena Vista, Colorado, our destination.  Rob told us that there was world-class fly-fishing on the Arkansas River.  He said during the fall the fish go crazy trying to get enough food for the winter.  I’ve never fished before in my life. When I told Rob I’d never fished he said “No grown man should go though life without having fished at least once. It’s Unnatural.”
            Rob insisted that I come out and try my luck. Yoshi said she missed the mountains and she wanted to go on vacation.  So here we were.  The town was the arc type of a small western town.  It could have been the setting for a Norman Rockwell painting.  We drove down Main Street and examined the store fonts all dressed up for Halloween.  This looked like the type of town where the kids still went Trick-or-Treating.  It must be nice to have that kind of trust in your neighbors. 
            “Oh, look at that Dan, they are so cute.”
            My gaze followed Yoshi’s pointing finger.  She was pointing at a window, displaying mannequins made by twisting corn stalks together, attaching a stuffed cloth face, and dressing them in baggy clothes.  I will never understand why women find some things cute. 
            “Yeah Yoshi, they’re interesting.”  Stupid scarecrows. I hate scarecrows.
After a couple false starts following directions provided by the incredibly helpful GPS system we finally found the Public Safety Complex.  It was early in the morning I figured that Chief Williams would either be at work or would arrive shortly.  Since I lost the paper with his contact information I thought I would try to catch Rob at work.  Yoshi informed me that if I let her take care of the paper it wouldn’t have gotten lost.  She’s right of course.  Wives usually are, the trick is not to let them find out you know that.  Otherwise, you’ll never hear the end if it. 
The public safety building was a lot smaller than I expected.  I’m used to multi story sprawling buildings containing the police station and the jail.  This building was a small and unassuming cream-colored brick structure. Apparently Buena Vista had no need for anything large and elaborate, so either there wasn’t a lot of crime is this town, they had a larger facility in a different city, or both.  I suspected both. 
We found a parking place in between two police cruisers just in front of the building.  There didn’t seem to be any special place for visitor parking so we pulled into the spot. 
As I got out of my car the driver’s side door of the cruiser on my left opened up, “Major Robinson, is that you?”
“It’s just Dan now, or Mr. Robinson is you want to be all formal about it.”
 “Sorry Major, old habits ya know. You’re looking good.  I expected to see you at my home last night.”
“Yeah Rob, I know sorry bout that.  I got a bit lost ya know. I don’t have you and Xavier to keep track of me anymore.”
“Yeah, you always needed someone to take care of you.  Looks like you traded up after you got rid of Xavier and me.” Rob said with a nod indicating Yoshi.
“Well that’s true enough.  Rob, I’d like you to meet Yoshi.”
“Well Ma’am, it’s sure a pleasure to meet you.” Rob said as he shook her hand.
“Thank you.  It is a pleasure to meet you.  I want you to know we would have been on time if Dan gave me the paper with your contact information.  He got a bit stubborn and would not let me have it.”
“Well Mrs. Robinson.  I’ll have to show you a few tricks on how to deal with stubborn officers.  There are ways to trick them into doing what you want, for their own good of course.”
“I will have to take you up on that, and please call me Yoshi.”
Rob still looked like I remembered him tall dark haired and thickly corded with muscle.  On a second look I noticed the stress buried in his bright blue eyes framed by a new set of worry lines. 
Rob noticed my scrutiny and quickly looked away. That was odd.  Usually he was very forthcoming with what was bothering him in fact, he never could keep a secret from me.  Something was up.  I wondered when or if he was going to tell us. 
“Well let’s go inside.  It’s just a bit cold this morning and I could used a cup of coffee.” 
Rob led the way into the building and to his office.  When we reached his office Rob opened the door and stood aside to let Yoshi, and I go in before him.
            At the sound of the door a patrolman inside the office sprang to his feet and said, “Chief, there’s been another…” 
            When the Patrolman saw Yoshi and I, it was like is tongue turned to glue and stuck to the roof of his mouth, either he was unable to, or unwilling to continue speaking.  Now I know that Yoshi’s good looking but I doubted that his sudden silence had to do with the way she looked.  The Patrolman was too old to be tongue tied in front of a pretty girl.  Again, Something was up, and everyone was trying to keep a lid on it.
             “Do you need us to leave?” I asked Rob hoping he would let me stay.  This was getting interesting, more interesting than the stupid scarecrows I knew Yoshi was going to drag me to go see.
“No Major, I would like you to stay.  I understand you are a licensed murder investigator now days is that correct.”
            “Yes.”
            “I know this is supposed to be your vacation and all, I had hoped to take you fishing, but it looks like that’s not going to happen.  Sorry, Mrs. Robinson.”
            “I told you, it is Yoshi.  If someone has been murdered, catching their killer is more important than catching fish.”
            “Eric, tell us where and when.”
            “Okay, chief you’re the boss,” officer Eric said with and uncomfortable look at Yoshi.  He continued, “It looks like a couple of teenagers this time.  In the old Stratton house.  Probably dared themselves to stay in that old haunted house.  The ME said they was killed about one in the morning.”
            “Well, I need to take a look.” Rob said, “Mrs., Sorry, Yoshi we’ll get you set up in the guest house, then the Major and I will go out and take a look.” 
            “I understand you are trying to spare me looking at a crime scene but I am Dan’s professional partner not just another pretty face.  I would like to take a look if I may.”
            “Okay, sorry.  I didn’t mean any disrespect.  I didn’t know you were also an investigator.”
            “She’s an investigator, probably a better one than I am,” I said 
            Okay, please leave your car here.  We’ll ride over in one of the unmarked cars.  On the way I’ll tell you a bit more about what’s going on. 
            We followed Rob and Eric out to an unmarked police car.  Yoshi and I sat in the back.  Rob took the wheel and Eric tried but didn’t succeed in looking nonchalant. 
            “This happened last year at this time.  We have a serial killer that we’ve called The Scarecrow Killer.  We never caught the guy but the killings stopped so we thought he moved on.  We of course reported everything to the state and the feds but never heard back so we thought it was over.  Then it started again a couple of days ago.  A couple of hikers were found dead with this guy’s tell next to their bodies.  The next night and old tourist couple found dead in their hotel room.  Again the tell was there.”
            “What tell?” I asked.
            “The killer leaves a mangled scarecrow either in or near the crime scene.”
            I knew scarecrows were bad, stupid scarecrows. 
            “Over the last couple of years there have been a several killings, It’s always couples.  Both the man and the woman slaughtered like hogs.  Last year the town was completely on edge.  We had armed men patrolling their neighborhoods looking for trouble.  Fortunately no one found it but it was a near thing.  So this year we’re trying to keep a lid on things.”
            “Yeah, okay.  I can understand why you may not want a bunch of emotionally charged folks, armed and out on the streets looking for trouble.  Is there anything different about this new murder spree?”
            Rob paused for a moment to think about his answer then said, “That’s a question that we have considered.  We thought it may be a copycat killer but we have been unable to find anything different in the pattern.  So either it’s the original killer or a copycat who’s very familiar with the original killings.  In addition, we don’t know how the perp chooses the victims it seems to be completely random.”
            “I hope we can find some sort of pattern.  Otherwise it will be very difficult to find our killer.” Yoshi said. 
            Eric shifted uneasily in his seat when Yoshi casually included herself in the investigation.  That was going to be a problem.  One of the few things that will set Yoshi off is people not taking her seriously.  Great this was all I need.
            Rob pulled into the gravel driveway of and old stone house.  In its day this house had once been grand but its beauty had long since faded.  A huge weeping willow tree dominated the overgrown front yard.  Heavy wooden boards prevented entry though the first floor windows.  The second story windowpanes that weren’t broken were so covered in grim it was impossible to see inside.   The front door was chained shut and police tape reinforced the keep out sign nailed to the weathered wooden door.  The roof was shingled in old style cedar shingles that were missing in a couple of places revealing the lath and beam structure holding everything up.  This house was so old I bet the roof was held together by hand forged square nails.  All and all it was the perfect picture of a haunted house: therefore, I’m sure no self-respecting ghost lived there.  It was too obvious. 
             “Huh, all we need now is a good thunderstorm the enhance the ambience.  Maybe, a long drawn out wolf howl off in the distance would be a nice touch.” I said aloud as we walked up to the door.
            “Knock it of Dan.  I don’t think we need your sarcasm right now,” Yoshi snapped. 
            “Okay sorry.”  I know I didn’t sound all that sorry.  Yoshi noticed as well and she shot me a dark look.
            Rob took out a large ring of keys from his pocket and removed the lock and the chain from the front door.  We entered the old home and stepped into a wonderland of dust.  The furniture had been covered by thin white cloth and then left to molder and rot in place.  The remnants of a couple of rugs lay on the floor.
            “Where are the bodies?” Rob asked Eric.
            “Upstairs.”
            The little strip of light from the open door, failed to illuminate the stairs so I felt around for a light switch. 
            “Major, you’re wasting your time this house was never wired for electricity.” Rob said as he switched on a flashlight.
            The beam from Rob’s flashlight darted around the interior of the house illuminating more furniture and even the remains of a couple of paintings.  I thought I saw a couple of old-fashioned gas lamps on the walls.  Rob must not have been kidding when he said this house never had electricity. 
            Following in Rob wake we crossed the front room headed for the stairs.  When I thought about it for a second, I realized that is should have been obvious how to find the stairs just follow all the footprints in the dust.  Okay so maybe Rob was just looking around and not looking for the stairs. 
            The stairs were rickety, so rickety in fact that I thought they would collapse at the slightest touch.  They turned out to be a great deal sturdier than they looked.  The upstairs was in worse shape than the ground floor.  The holes in the roof left the floor and the furnishing exposed to the unkind elements.  The smell of mold was thick in the air.  We had to watch our footing so we didn’t step onto rotten flooring and plunge though to the ground floor.
            “The bodies are in one of the back rooms unless the ME has moved them yet.  I don’t think she has moved them yet she had to wait on something.  She tried to tell me what but I didn’t follow her.” Eric said.
            Rob didn’t say a word he just continued to follow the tracks in the dust to down a hallway into the gloom.  Eric was practically treading on his heals Yoshi and I were a couple of steps behind.  I felt a hand touch my arm.  I felt like my feet left the floor and didn’t come back down for a couple of seconds.  When I turned around and looked at Yoshi either I didn’t jump as high as I thought or Yoshi was just as weirded out by the creepy house as I was. 
            “Something really bad happened here.  Not just a regular murder something worse, this house is filled will a lot of dark energy.  More than normal for a murder scene.”
            Oh goody I am so excited to be a part of this plan. Walking in a dark, creepy, dangerous old house filled with dark energy.  Oh joy, fun for everyone.
            I didn’t say anything. I just nodded and followed Rob and Eric into the creepy old house. Rob finally stopped at the last room on the right at the end of the hall.   He motioned for Yoshi and I to come forward.  He shined his light into the room.  The light fell across the room illuminated a scene of absolute chaos.  The wooden bed frame was shattered into pieces and the small wooden end table was crushed and broken into toothpicks.  Bits of old wooden rocker and armoire lay strewn together.  All of the breaks were clean and sharp.  This damage had been done recently.  The destruction of the furniture was bad enough, but the bodies lent and extra special horror to the scene. 
            The bodies belonged to a young man and a young woman.  They had to be about fifteen or sixteen.  The boy lay in a heap belly down but face up.  He face frozen in a mask of pain and terror.  His limbs twisted into awkward poses like a broken rag doll.  From the condition of his body it looked like he had been the tool used to destroy the furniture.  As bad as his death had been the girls had been worse.  She had been slit open from belly to breastbone; her entrails pulled from her body and pined to the floor with a piece of the destroyed rocking chair.  These horrible wounds had been inflicted while she was still alive because she died with her hand holding her intestine probably trying to stuff it back in as she crawled to the corner were she died.  Yoshi was right something very bad had happened here.  This guy was going down.
            I stood there looking the scene over and it occurred to me that my hand hurt.  I looked at my hand to see why when I realized I had been hammering it over and over into the door jam.  I stopped trying to beat the door down and looked at my companions.  Yoshi looked like she had a serious mad on.  Rob looked pale but determined, and Eric just looked a little sick.  That’s when I noticed it.  I noticed it’s sinister smiling face staring at me from atop of the mattress.  It was a scarecrow just like the ones sold in the shop downtown.   
            I don’t remember much about the rest of the day.  I know we went back to Rob’s office.  I know we talked about who the most likely suspects were.   I know we talked a lot but didn’t come a single solitary step closer to the bastard who did this.  I hated wasting time but at the moment we didn’t have any leads.
            We didn’t get back to Robs place until late that night or perhaps it was early in the morning.  Rob put us up in a small guest cabin on his property.  The cabin was a studio with a main room holding a bed, a table, a couple chairs, a small kitchenette, and a closet like bathroom off to one side.  It was a good enough place to stay but to me it felt very confining.  I wanted to be out doing something to prevent more deaths by the scarecrow killer.  I couldn’t because we didn’t know anything. 
            “Well you were no help today, all we got out of you was sarcasm and a dent in the door jam,” Yoshi said crossly. 
            “Well what do you want from me?  So I’m not perfect.  It made me mad and all we did is talk, talk, talk.”  I said as I flopped down on a chair. 
            Yoshi paced across the small space at the foot of the bed.  She turned and looked at me and said peevishly, “I suppose you would like to find the guy and shoot him.  Well in case you haven’t noticed we don’t know where he is or even who he is.  Maybe you noticed that.”
            “Oh I forgot, I woke up this morning and still had my junk attached so it must be my fault.”
            Yoshi turned to face me her voice just barely more that a whisper, “Oh I see, you want a fight.  Well then you are going to get one.  No you listen and you listen well I am sick and…”
            The night air was split by an unearthly scream and the cabin plunged into sudden darkness.  That startled Yoshi into silence.  I suppose that was one good thing about the creepy scream outside the cabin.  Another wail pierced the night air it was cold, full of hate, full of fear, full of fury.  This scream came from the front of the cabin it was loud enough and close enough that it rattled the windows.   My eyes adjusted to the light coming into the cabin from the outside.  Rob’s floodlights were still working something had cut the power to the cabin.   Yoshi had her katana in hand.  I have no idea how she got it so fast.  Yeah armed was a good idea.  I drew my .40 from a holster inside my waistband and pointed at the door.  Something hit the door with enough force to rattle it against the doorframe and dent the steel security door.   Oh goody. 
            The door shuttered under more blows as whatever was out there continued its assault on the door.  I back away from the front of the cabin with my pistol pointed at the fast failing door.   My back hit the wall. I had no more space to move.  I really could use and assault rifle about now.  My back hit the wall right between the two rear windows.   Hum, that might not be the best idea.  The sound of shattering glass confirmed that this was in fact a really bad idea.  A hand encased and a cloth glove shot though the shattered window and sought a strangle hold on my throat.   I reacted on instinct, the army’s hand to hand was not as elegant as Yoshi’s Aikido but it was all I had.  I rotated my shoulders forward pulling my assailant’s head and upper torso through the shattered window.  I slammed by head back aiming to head butt the bugger in the face.  I expected to feel the squish that happens when you break someone’s nose. This felt more like slamming my head into a pillow.   What the hell is that, I thought, well at least it broke my attackers hold.  I spun around and was confronted again by that same sinister happy smiling scarecrow face.  
            “Ah shit it’s a damn scarecrow.”  I heard someone shout. Most likely it was me. 
            I emptied the magazine of my gun into the things guts.  It didn’t look very impressed as it continued to climb though the window.  Well no freaky damn scarecrow is going to take me alive.  Bullets didn’t seem to work so I threw my gun at the scarecrow and grabbed a kitchen knife from the block on the small counter.  The scarecrow batted my gun aside and lunged forward arms spread wide to in an attempt to grab me.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw the front door finally give way and guess what another damn scarecrow waded into the fray this one armed with a rusty old scythe.  Yoshi didn’t let it get far before she put her katana to use.  I didn’t have time to watch, I had to deal with my own scarecrow.
            The scarecrow was frightfully strong but slow.  I ducked under its attempted grab and plunged the knife into its guts and sliced up.  I expected to see hot blood welling out of a horrific wound and the man in the costume to scream in pain.   I got a bunch of straw.  I straightened up in shock and got clubbed to the ground for my trouble.  Well that didn’t work.  I tried to shake my head clear while at the same time roll away to get a little bit of distance.  I rolled up against something hard.  It was the front wall.  There really is not room for a fight in this cabin.  Fortunately I ended up face up.  With my feet pointed towards my enemy.  The scarecrow came at me in a rush leaping though the air.  In desperation I planted my feet on his chest and pushed up as it came down the momentum flipped me over and pitched the scarecrow out the door and on to Rob’s neatly manicured lawn.  I found my footing, and now it was my turn for a flying tackle.  My shoulder caught it in what should have been the small of its back and we slammed into the ground.  I straddled the scarecrows back and brought the knife down again and again ripping and cutting until the scarecrow stopped moving. 
When it stopped moving.  I looked up and saw Rob with his riot gun standing on one side of me, and Yoshi with her katana standing on the other.  The straw covering Yoshi dispelled my doubts as to the other scarecrows fate. 
“I think I’ve had enough of a fight for now, Yoshi.  Can we continue our disagreement later?”  
“Um, someone want to tell me what the hell happened here?” Rob demanded.
“As soon as I figure it out, you’ll be the next to know,” I answered.
Yoshi sheathed her katana, and looked thoughtful.  I thought she was piecing something together.  Without a word, Yoshi walked back thought the shattered door into the cabin.  I nodded for Rob to join us as I followed Yoshi.  The interior of the cabin was mess.  The door was laying on half on and half off the bed.  Straw and broken glass from my fight were scattered all over the room.  The second scarecrow was also scattered all over the room.  Yoshi had dismembered it then bisected its limbless torso.  Over in one corner the scythe was neatly cut in half.   It looked like the second scarecrow never stood a chance.
“I think we may have found the scarecrow killer,” Yoshi said without preamble.
Oh I get it, I thought.  I immediately wished the though died stillborn. 
“What do you mean?” Asked Rob.
Yoshi opened her mouth to answer, but I cut her off with a nod of apology.
“Rob, do you remember the Cult.”
“I sure hope you don’t mean the Cult of Assassins.  They can’t be involved.  I thought we killed during the war.”
“I don’t think it’s the Cult specifically, we pretty much destroyed them during the war but someone has to be animating those stupid scarecrows and using them as weapons to commit their murders.  The scarecrows are not just the tell but they are the murder weapon.”
“That’s was a good thought Dan, but you’re wrong,” Yoshi said.
“Um, what.”
I thought I had figured it out but with that simple statement Yoshi had ripped the rug out from beneath my feet and here I thought I was on a roll.
“There was no connection to an outside mage.  Without a connection a mage could not be directly controlling the scarecrows.”
“Begging your pardon Ma’am, but while I think I get a tiny bit of what you’re saying I have to ask, how do you know?”
“I’ve made a study of how these things could work,” Yoshi replied evasively. 
Rob looked unconvinced but he didn’t say anymore about that subject instead he asked, “Okay, from your studies, what do you think is going on.”
“I’m not sure. Yet.  I’m going to need some time to figure things out,” Yoshi said.
“Okay, I think I can understand that.  Don’t take to much time.  I fear there may be more dead bodies for us to investigate tomorrow.  The longer it takes to find out what’s going on the higher the body count will be.” 
Rob looked grim I didn’t blame him. After all it was his people suffering.  Rob again looked around the inside of his guest cabin and shook his head.
“Well you can’t stay here anymore.  It’s totally wrecked.  I’m afraid all I have to offer now is my floor and my couch.  At least until I can get this place cleaned up.”
“That’ll be okay,” I said, but I noticed Yoshi didn’t look happy about it.  Yoshi had slept in worse places in her life so I doubt she was unhappy about the accommodations.  I’d have to find out what was going on later.
Before we left the cabin I looked around to see if I could spot my missing pistol.  I found it after a couple of minuets searching.  It was broken. The scarecrow hit it hard enough that the polymer handle snapped in half.  This was so not good.  You are supposed to be able run those guns over with a truck and pick them up and shoot them with no problem.  I guess the engineers never counted on the stress load of killer scarecrows. 
We followed Rob back into his main house. Even though the scarecrows were down I still felt like something wanted to kill me.  It was a feeling I had before and it was not one that I enjoyed.  It made my hand itch for my broken pistol.  Or better yet a flamethrower.  Hum fire toasty no more stupid scarecrows.  We walked into Rob’s house.  He closed and locked the door behind us.  Not that it would help. I mean the stupid scarecrows could just knock the door down.
“Rob, where is your family, what are they going to do if the scarecrows come back?”
“I have a reinforced safe room and they are already inside.  We’ll just stay there tonight.”
“That’s a good idea,” I said.
“That won’t be necessary,” Yoshi said at the same time.
 “Why not?” Rob and I asked at the same time.
I was getting tired of other people stepping on my lines.  It was getting old. 
“The scarecrows will not be back tonight,” Yoshi said, “they seem to manifest only once a night.”
“I’m glad you think so, but I’m not willing to take chances on my with my family’s safety.”  Rob said as he turned and walked up the open staircase to the loft above the front room.  He paused the as he reached the top of the stairs he looked back down at us surprised to see that we were still on the ground floor.
“Aren’t you coming? The safe room is upstairs.”
“No, I don’t think that the scarecrows will be coming back, if they do we will provide a distraction to help keep your family safe.”
“Yoshi, I can see you’re going to be stubborn about this.  I’m too tired to argue with you,” Rob said then walked down the hallway to his left.
I waited a couple of minuets to let Rob get settled in.  While waiting I couldn’t help pacing I was filled with nervous, anxious energy.   It seemed the more I paced the angrier I got.  I could feel my temper rising.  I slammed my heel down on the ground and spun to face Yoshi and was stunned see her sitting calmly on the floor in the full lotus position.  How could she just sit there?  The scarecrows were probably out there killing someone else right now and she is just sitting there.  How can she care so little?
I opened my mouth to scream out my frustration.  Yoshi just simply raised her hand in a wait a second gesture and then said, “Do you even wonder why you are acting so out of charter.  Or do you always act this out of control?”
It took a second for Yoshi’s words to work there way past the wall of red that veiled my mind.  When I realized what she was saying the angry torrent of words spewing out of my mouth seemingly reversed and then lodged in my throat.  I paused, choking for breath and considered Yoshi’s words.  She was right I wasn’t acting like myself.  It was as if something was enhancing my impatience and frustration.  This was not how I normally act.  Yoshi didn’t deserve my tirade.
“I’m sorry Yoshi.”
“We’ll talk about it later.”
I could feel the tension start to rise when Yoshi so casually dismissed me with her words.  She knows I hate it when she just dismisses me like that. 
I slammed the brakes on that train of thought.  What the hell was going on?
“Yoshi, what is going on?  Why am I acting like this?”
“I’m not entirely sure, but this is what I have been able to figure out.  You of course remember that dark energy at the crime scene.  Well it’s somehow attached to us.  That dark energy is what is making us act this way and it’s somehow related to the scarecrow attack.  I’m still working on the details.”
“Okay, so how do I get rid of this energy?”
“Try cold water.”
“What?”
The tension was rising I knew that it was totally unproductive.  So I walked into the kitchen and turned on the cold water in the kitchen sink then stuck my head into the stream of water.  After a few seconds of freezing my head off it occurred to me that Yoshi probably could have dispelled the dark energy off of me with her magic.  She probably dispelled the dark magic around her in that way.  This was probably her way of getting back at me for being rude to her a couple of moments ago.  Curiously it seemed to be working.  I wasn’t as annoyed with her trick as I would have been a few moments ago. 
“Hey Yoshi, this seems to be working,” I said while searching for a towel.
“I thought it might,” came the calm reply.
I couldn’t find a towel and didn’t feel like looking though every drawer and cupboard in Rob’s kitchen so I walked back to the front room still dripping wet.  Yoshi looked up from her meditation and a smile cracked her calm façade. 
“Yeah, laugh it up but when you’re finished perhaps you can tell me why the water worked and what you know.”
I folded my arms and leaned up against the door jam and waited for Yoshi to start talking.   The sound of water dripping off me and hitting the floor was the only thing breaking the silence for several seconds.  The several seconds it took for Yoshi to regain control of herself.   I didn’t say a word I just raised an eyebrow for some reason that made it harder for Yoshi to stop silently laughing.  
“Okay, I don’t know exactly what happened but like I said the dark energy seems to be attached to us.  The good news is there won’t be any more deaths in the town.  The bad news is the scarecrows will keep coming after us until we figure out what is going on, or until were dead.”
“Oh, I see.  I can’t say I’m thrilled with this plan.  I but I rather they were coming after us than going after more teenagers.  So why didn’t you use fire to destroy the scarecrow back in the cabin.”
“Oh there’s a good idea flaming burning scarecrow running around lighting everything on fire.”
Oh yeah.  Scratch the flamethrower idea way to much collateral damage.
“Okay, what else do you know?”
Yoshi unfolded from her lotus position and walked over to me. 
“Not much, I think the scarecrows are ghosts.  I don’t know of whom and I don’t know why they are attacking people.  They can only manifest once per night.  When they do manifest they go on a violent rampage killing anyone who comes in contact with them.”
“Okay.  Here’s a question.  Why was there only one scarecrow left at the crime scene.  There were two tonight but only one with the dead kids.”
“I don’t know.” 
“Well Rob said that in every case there was a mutilated scarecrow.  Is it possible that the ghosts are fighting each other?  I think they must be otherwise there should be two scarecrows in the murder scenes.”
Yoshi closed her eyes and cocked her head to one side as she considered my question.
“I think you may be on to something there Dan, but what does that tell us.”
Now it was my turn to consider the question.  What did that tell us?  Not much unless we could use that information to somehow figure out what was motivating these ghosts to kill.  What made ghosts restless dead anyway?  I thought I read somewhere that ghosts are restless because they either died violently, or they left something undone in their life.  It could be both.
“Yoshi, I think I got it.  I think these two killed each other in a violent manner perhaps out of revenge or something.  I think they both died in the attempt so they never got a sense of completion so they keep trying.”
Then the lights went out again.
From somewhere in the now darkened house came the sound of shattering glass.   
“Um, Yoshi, I thought you said they could only manifest once per night.”
“I might have been mistaken.  Here take this it should work better than the kitchen knife.”
Yoshi pressed the handle of her wakizashi into may hand.  It would work better than the kitchen knife but in my hands it would be wasted I really didn’t know anything about sword fighting.  How did Yoshi get her wakizashi anyway?
            I could hear something moving in the house it was a dry rustling sound following scraping footsteps.  Something was coming.   I still couldn’t see.  My eyes hadn’t completely adjusted to the gloom.  Slowly the room filled with more light.  I looked over at Yoshi to see if she had any idea why the room was getting lighter.  She did.  Or at least I think she did.  Her katana shone with soft white light that filled the room.  Cool at least now we could see.  I sized up the situation.  First, we had non-combatants upstairs.  Second we don’t know the layout of the house.  Third, we really didn’t know who was in the house.  I had dark suspicions but really didn’t know.   
            “Yoshi, please block the stairs we can’t let them get upstairs to Rob’s family.”
            “Don’t do anything stupid Dan.”
            “You know me.”
            “That’s why I said don’t do anything stupid.”
            I shot Yoshi a mock hurt look then looked into the kitchen.  Nothing there, for now nothing outside past the kitchen door either.  The rustle of straw was louder now.  It sounded like it was coming from everywhere at once.
            “Well come on then, or are you just trying to piss me off with all the spooky omni-direction rustling.  Well its working straw for brains.”
            It wasn’t much of an insult but it was the best I could do at the moment.
            “I thought I asked you not to do something stupid.”
            I looked back at Yoshi, my retort died on my lips.  Halfway up the staircase slowly walking down came the scythe scarecrow.  Its arms cocked back for a swing that would take Yoshi’s head off.    
            “Yoshi!” I screamed.
            She didn’t hesitate she just dropped into a ball and rolled down the stairs.  She came to her feet this time facing the stairs sword at the ready.  The scarecrow advanced slowly down the stairs to meet her.  I moved into position to help but not be in the way.  When it suddenly hit me, where’s the other one.  I tossed a look back over my shoulder just in time to see it step out from the kitchen its hands concealed behind its back.  I dropped into my best imitation of Yoshi’s on guard position.   I swear the scarecrows painted smile got wider as it brought its hands from behind its back knives gleaming from each fist.  
Well now I know why it went into the kitchen, I thought.  Oh this is so not good. 
A roaring sound filled the air.  The scarecrow advancing on me staggered under multiple impacts.  Holes and rips appeared in its body and in the carpet behind it.  The roaring continued until the scarecrow went down literally shredded to pieces.  I looked back to see how Yoshi was doing in time to see her hack down her enemy.  Up in the loft holding a smoking boxy looking fully automatic combat shotgun stood Rob.  That would be the source of the roaring.  Once again Rob had saved my life. 
 “Nice gun.”
“You like it? The manufacture gave me a couple.  They want me to order some for the whole department.  After tonight I think I just might.”
“Rob, I’m sorry.  I thought that it would be over for tonight.  I didn’t mean to put your family at risk.” Yoshi said. 
“You didn’t know.”
“Dan, we can’t stay here.  It’s not safe for Rob and his family.”
“I know.”
I turned to Rob and said, “We think those things are going to keep coming for us.”
“I know, I listened from the hall.  I know eavesdropping is impolite but you were holding out on me.  I had to know.”
Rob looked at us defiantly fully expecting to have a fight on his hands.  He was very surprised when Yoshi started to laugh. 
“You are right, I had no right to hold out on you.  I just thought you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Yoshi, I’m as skeptical as the next person, but I have two scarecrows walking around like real people.  I think the word impossible needs to be put on the shelf for a while.  I’m not sure I will ever be able to use impossible casually again.”
“Good point.”
“Yoshi, how do you know that if we leave the scarecrows will follow us and not finish off Rob’s family?”
“I don’t, all I know is the dark energy is still connected with us and not with Rob.  If we leave then the dark energy should follow us.  The ghosts seem to be drawn to and yet at the same time the source of the dark energy.  I don’t completely understand it.  I have never encountered this before.  I wish Grandmother was here.”
“Road trip to San Francisco?” I asked.
“No not yet.  We need to know more about these ghosts they could be tied to this area.  If we leave now the connection may drop and free the ghosts to kill others.”
“Okay take these, they are for the police cruiser outside.  Go to the police station.  Here take this with you.  Sounds like you’re going to need it.”  Rob handed me his keys and shotgun. 
“But what about you and your family?” I asked holding out the shotgun for him to take back.
“I told you the manufacturer gave me two of them, I have the other in the safe room.  Besides you’d need and anti tank weapon to get into the safe room we should be able to hold out.  I’d go with you, but who’ll be here with my family in case they come back.”
“Don’t worry about it, Rob.  If I were in your shoes I’d stay and keep an eye on my family as well.”
“Yoshi do you need something other than your sword.” 
“No thank you, I don’t shoot very well.” Yoshi said.  
I turned on my heel and strode out the front door Yoshi followed right behind me.  Just before I heard the door close I heard Rob say, “Good hunting Major.  There’s more shells in the trunk of the cruiser.”
            We reached the cruiser I fumbled with the keys for a couple of seconds trying to unlock the trunk and keep a close eye on my surroundings finally I got the trunk open and grabbed the case of shotgun shells.  I turned to get in the driver’s side but found that Yoshi was already in the seat.
            “Get in.  I don’t want to take the time for you to fiddle with that gun.  We have to get out of here now.”
            I didn’t argue.  Yoshi hates driving so when she wants to drive something must be up.  I took the magazine out of the shotgun and ejected the shell in the chamber. Then got in the car.   Before I even had the door completely closed Yoshi took off.   As we turned down the driveway the headlights illuminated the still form of the scarecrow I’d cut up on the lawn in front of the cabin. 
So, it was different scarecrow bodies each time.  Well that’s interesting.
“Yoshi, did you see the scarecrow body on the lawn?  It was still there.”
“Yes, I saw it.  It seems they have to find real scarecrows and possess their bodies.  That’s good.”
“Um Yoshi, why is that good?”
“Because if they have to find new bodies to possess it will take them time before they can come back after us again and maybe they’ll run out of bodies to use.”
We reached the paved road, and Yoshi really pushed the pedal down we took off like a bat out of hell.   After a few seconds it the dotted yellow line in the middle of the two-lane road started to look more like a solid yellow line. 
“Yoshi, why are you driving so fast?” I asked while buckling my seatbelt. 
“They are coming again.  This time I can feel them.  If I can get them to follow us, they won’t be hurting Rob and his family.”
I shut up and let her drive while I topped off the drum magazine to the shotgun.  We continued our break neck speed until we reached the town proper.  Then it just wasn’t possible.  Still we traveled faster than what we should considering we were traveling down Main Street past all the shops we saw just this morning.  Something about those shops sent my nerves tingling I wasn’t sure just what it was. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.    
The reaper scarecrow leaped out in front of the car.  Yoshi didn’t even try for the breaks she just simply hit it.  It exploded from the force of the impact.  Sending straw flying everywhere and us out of control.  We slammed into the side of a building.
My brain was screaming for me to move but my body didn’t want to respond.  I had something that I needed to do urgently but I just couldn’t figure out what it was.  Oh yeah. 
I came out of my daze with a start.  The airbag had deployed saving me from eating the dashboard.   Hurriedly I slammed the magazine back into the shotgun and yanked the charging handle.  I put my head on a swivel and looked in all directions in time to see my friendly scarecrow leap up into the air and land heavily on top of the cruiser.  It wasted no time and drove its fingers into the roof and started to peel to top off the cruiser like a tin can.  The shotgun in my hand roared as I dumped shell, after shell though the roof of the car and into the scarecrow.  I didn’t stop until straw started to fall like rain and the car stopped bucking like an out of control horse.  I checked the case of shells to see how many were still left to reload the magazine.
“Thank you Rob,” I said out loud. 
In the case was another full magazine for this shotgun.  I swaped the partial for the full one and stepped out onto the street to make sure the scarecrow was no longer a threat.  It was just a pile of straw and shredded cloth.   I checked to make sure Yoshi was on her feet.  She was, a little wobbly perhaps but she was still on her feet sword in hand looking for trouble.
“There on their way again.  They were able to find the bodies quickly this time.  Is there a supply of scarecrows near by?”   
Oh bugger, that damn shop selling the stupid things, it must be close to here.  That’s was what I couldn’t put my finger on. 
“Yoshi, the shop.”
She said something in Japanese.  I assumed it was impolite.  I don’t speak the language so I don’t know for sure.  Yoshi’s not like me she saved her swearing for extra special occasions.  Occasions like this when the shit was really going to hit the fan.  I topped of the partial magazine then grabbed as many shells as my pockets could hold. 
“Dan, we’ve got trouble.”
“What now?”
“Look.” She said pointing to a hand made sign posted on the utility pole next to the police cruiser.
It read, “Old man McTavish’s crazy haunted corn maze and scarecrow walk now open at the McTavish farm.”
“What the hell is a scarecrow walk?” I asked.
“I assume it is a display of scarecrows kinda like a pumpkin walk.”
“What is it with this town and those damn things anyway.” I demanded. I didn’t expect an answer but I did get and answer.  The answer I got was the sound of rustling straw.  Here we go again. 
The reaper stepped around the corner. I traced an invisible line up the thing’s middle.  Letting it have a shot in the shins, thighs, belly, chest, and finally the head.  It went down in a heap of debris not to get up again.  The crackle of flames sounded behind me. I whirled around in time to see a line of fire extend from Yoshi’s hand and immolate the smiling scarecrow.  Smiley ran towards her a flailing ball of fire.  Yoshi neatly sidestepped its bull rush and split the thing in two at the waist.
I didn’t say anything, I just raised my eyebrow.
“What, these stupid things are making me mad.  Pile the other ones on here.” 
“Oh I love a good bon fire, only how do you think the town will feel about a fire in the middle of down town Main Street.”
“I’m not planning on being here long enough to find out.”
 I did as she said and kicked as much straw as I could into Yoshi’s cheery fire.  The next sound I heard was the sound of shattering glass and the wailing of a store’s burglar alarm.  Unless I missed my guess the scarecrows were on their way this time using new bodies from the store window. 
I looked for Yoshi but didn’t see her.  They could have grabbed her and taken off.  I ran around the corner to the front of the store.  Expecting the worst.  Instead I saw Yoshi practically whiling like a top her blade flashing in nearly every direction.  As she cut down scarecrow after scarecrow as they piled out of the store’s front window.  She was cutting them down almost faster than the ghosts could animate them.
While she was cutting all I could do was watch.  A curious thing happened, at first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me but slowly I started to notice the faint outline of a man, and then a woman materializing like mist out of the chopped scarecrows and fading into the next ones to move.  I could see the ghosts.  Why I could see the ghosts was anyone’s guess.  Before long there weren’t any more scarecrows.  The ghosts shot off down the street almost faster than I could blink. 
Yoshi stood there panting.  I let her catch her breath for a couple of seconds then I heard a new sound, a sound that indicated it was past time for us to go.  It was the sound of sirens either the police of the fire department were on their way.  I grabbed Yoshi’s hand and took off down the street following the ghosts.
“Where are we going?” Yoshi asked breathlessly.
“The ghosts went this way, I saw them take off.”
Yoshi came to a dead stop her sudden stopped pulled me from my feet and I went down in a heap.  Yoshi came piling down on top of me. Just in time for a fire engine to go screaming past.  As soon as it was past Yoshi jumped up and went racing down a different street.  I ran after her.   I didn’t catch up with her until she stopped in front of the un-imposing façade of the public Safety Complex. 
“Yoshi, why are we here?  Isn’t this the last place we want to be right now?  I mean we’re probably wanted for burglary and arson.”
“I think I know where the ghost are heading.  But, I don’t know how to get there.”
“Yoshi, make sense will ya.”
 She shot me a dirty look before she continued in the patient tones one uses with a slow child, “The flyer Dan.  Besides were ever we go the ghost are going to follow.”
“Oh yeah the McTavish Farm Scarecrow Walk.” I said
I felt like an idiot.  Of course they would go to where they could get a ready supply of replacements. 
“Okay, tell me why we are here at the police station?” I demanded peevishly.
“I don’t know where the McTavish farm is.” 
“And what makes you think they won’t arrest us on sight?”
“Robs here.”
I didn’t bother asking how she knew, magic sucks when you are trying to win an argument with your wife.
            “Rob is actually just inside the front door.  He seems to be waiting for us.”
            I walked around to the front of the building and thought the front door.  Sure enough Rob was sitting at the front desk waiting for us.
            As soon as I walked though the front door Rob started speaking, “When Linda heard that I sent you off to fight the ghosts she took my shotgun and tossed me out of the safe room and said I’ll take care of the kids, don’t come back until this is over. So here I am. I thought you’d be along as soon as the fire and burglar alarm sounded.  Everyone here thinks it was just some kids and a stupid Halloween trick gone out of control.  I know better.”
            “We don’t have time to explain, but its not over yet.”
            “Well you look terrible and Yoshi’s bleeding all over the floor so you‘re gonna have to take some time.”
            I whipped my head around and looked at Yoshi.  The left side of her shirt was slashed open and covered in blood.  
            “I almost missed a block,” she said, “Its not deep.  It looks worse than it is.”
            “You need to see a doctor,” Rob said. 
            “I can’t it wouldn’t be safe for them. The ghosts are still after us.  Do you have any gauze pads? I’ll bandage the best I can I’ll have it looked at later.”
            Not entirely convinced Rob reached under the front desk and pulled out a large first aid kit.  Yoshi attended to her own bandaging probably so I wouldn’t notice how bad it really was. 
            When she was done she said, “Where is the McTavish farm.  There is some kind of connection to that place, the ghosts, and the dark energy.  I don’t know what but I feel some kind of connection.  When I saw the flyer posted to the pole I just knew they were somehow connected.”
            “Okay,” I said, “How do you know this?”
            “I’ve been trying to study the dark energy with magic.  It’s been hard the scarecrows keep trying to kill us.  They keep interrupting me.”
“I’m sure if you asked them nicely the Ghosts would apologize.”
            “You’re impossible.”
            “I know.”
            I stood there looking smug.  Yoshi in spite of her best efforts to remain stern cracked up and started to laugh. 
            “Rob, what do you know about Mr. McTavish.”
            “Not much.  The McTavish’s moved into town three years ago.  Most of the time the family keeps to themselves.  I guess the Halloween is their time of year.  They started that corn maze the first year the moved in.” 
            “Has anything odd happened?”
            “Well now that you mention it.  The oldest boy married a local girl.  The couple was seen about town for a few months, but after that they just up and disappeared.  We looked into the disappearances but could find no evidence of foul play.  In the end we had to accept Old Man McTavish’s explanation.  He said there was a falling out between him and his son.  The son and his bride just up and left without a word to anyone.  I don’t remember any of the names I could look it up if you want.”
            “Nah, I don’t think it will be necessary,” I said nonchalantly.
            Rob and Yoshi both looked at me suspiciously.
            “What do you know that you’re not telling me?” Rob demanded. 
            “I don’t really know anything, except that the ghosts are a man and woman. Everything else is just a dark suspicion.  I suspect that there was foul play of some kind and Old Man McTavish is covering it up.”
            Rocking back in his seat Rob looked at me speculatively.   
            “How do you know the ghost are a man and a woman?”
            “I saw them.”
            “That is the second time you said you saw them.  When did you see them?” Yoshi asked.
            “I saw them as they were popping in and out of the scarecrows at the store.  Didn’t you see them?”
            “No, and quite frankly I’m a bit worried you can see them.  It could mean your connection to them is getting stronger.”
            Oh that’s just great a stronger connection to the ghosts just what I always wanted.  Well there’s nothing I can do about it now.  We are going to have to figure out a way to stop these stupid ghosts regardless of how attached they are to me. 
            “Okay, we need to get out the McTavish farm.  I occurs to me that they haven’t tried to kill us for a couple minuets.”
            “No, they are getting weaker.  I think we have them on the defensive. I think that possessing so many scarecrows so quickly took a lot out of them.”
            “Good at least we are making some progress.”
            “Not really, if we don’t take care of this tonight will have to start over tomorrow.”
            “Fan-damn-tastic.  Which way is it to this miserable farm?”
            “I’ll take you.  I don’t think I can trust you driving another one of my cars.” Rob joked.
            Rob grabbed a set of keys and headed out the door.  Yoshi and I had to scramble to catch up with him.   We caught up with him as he was climbing into a police SUV.   We all piled in and Rob took off.  We didn’t stay in town very long. In fact we didn’t say on paved roads very long at all.  I was only a couple of turns before we were on a dirt road heading off towards the mountains surrounding the town.  The road led to a small side canyon.  At the mouth of the canyon I could see a house and a few side buildings perched on a large flat step naturally formed into the side of the mountain.  That had to be the place.  As we got closer we saw a sign pointing out the direction to the scarecrow walk and the corn maze.   Rob turned in the direction of the sign indicated.  He pulled the car into a small parking area.   On the far side of the fence stood row after row and scarecrows. Scarecrows of all sorts of sizes and all descriptions even a couple on opposite ends of the field that seemed to be glowing with and inner light as they stood on cross braces.  We walked into the center of the field of scarecrows. 
I wonder how Old Man McTavish got those scarecrows to light up like that.  It sure lends a nice spooky air to the creepy Halloween decorations.  Wait a second.
“Um Yoshi, get your sword ready.  The Ghosts are here waiting for us. The glowing scarecrows.”
 I took aim the glowing scarecrow closest to us.  It was the reaper.   The shotgun roared and the reaper exploded in burst of straw as the pellets ripped though it.   It went down in a heap.  The Ghostly outline of a man wafted up away from the remains of the scarecrow.  It just hovered there in the air staring at me.  It must have been pure instinct but I noticed that the barrel of the shotgun was pointing at what should be the ghost’s center of mass.   I expected the ghost to immediately flee to possess another scarecrow and press his attack on us but he just floated there staring his face a twisted mask of hate.   I risked a quick glance to check where the other glowing scarecrow was just in case this was a diversion.  It still stood in the same place it was not moving. 
“Um, Dan, what are you doing?  What are you looking at?” Yoshi asked. 
“The ghost.   I guess, you can’t see him then.”
“No, but the source of the dark energy is on this farm.  If we can find a way to neutralize the energy the attacks should stop.”
“Any ideas on how to go about neutralizing it?”
“Not yet.”
Oh, goody.
We seemed to have a stand off.  Mr. Ghost seemed to have no intention of possessing another scarecrow.   I checked on the other scarecrow just to make sure.  So maybe I was paranoid but this stupid scarecrow had tired to punch my ticket several times tonight.  I didn’t want to give it another chance.  It still hadn’t moved.  While I watched the female ghost drifted out of her still intact scarecrow.  She stood there looking at me, but her face wasn’t a twisted mask of hate.  Her look was more difficult to place.  It was more like resignation but that wasn’t quite it.  When she looked at the male ghost her face twisted into rage.
“This ends now.  I don’t care about your precious family’s reputation anymore.”  Her voice sounded, hallow, cold and it matched her look for rage.  
             She beckoned for me to follow her and she drifted into the corn maze.  Oh hell no.  I don’t thinks so.  Follow some homicidal ghost into a creepy corn maze.  That sounds like a wonderful idea.
            “Dan what is going on?”
            “I have no idea.”
            “Not very helpful”
            “I know Yoshi but it is what it is.”
            With a cry of rage the male ghost threw himself into the scarecrow nearest to me.  The scarecrow changed form the mundane scarecrow into our favorite reaper scarecrow complete with scythe.  With scarcely a sound the reaper leapt and me.  I got one shot off before his shoulder slammed me in the chest and hurled me to the ground.  It stood over me its ankles on either side of my chest.  He raised his arms raised high above his head then brought them down point of his scythe arcing for my chest.  I tried to move but was prevented by scarecrows legs.   I closed my eyes to avoid watching the killing stroke.  There was the sound of metal on wood I opened my eyes and saw the blade of the scythe stopped just and inch from my face.  Yoshi’s sword was holding the scarecrows strike at bay.  The scarecrow reversed his strike and brought his weapon back over his left shoulder.  Faster than thought the scythe slashed horizontally out at Yoshi.   She angled her blade so that the staff of the scythe hit her blade and skipped past her guard and over her head.   Yoshi counter strike was just as fast streaking in to the side of the scarecrows head.  The scarecrow picked off the attack with a swipe of his staff.  I was still pinned between the scarecrows feet.   I couldn’t just lay here I had to do something.  So I balled up my fist and slammed it into the back of the scarecrows knee.  My blow buckled his knee forcing him to drop to one knee.  Unfortunately the he drove his knee into my chest and my breath out of my lungs.   The scarecrow had to fend off a couple of Yoshi’s attacks while in this awkward position.  While thrashing around I discovered something hard jabbing me in my hip.  Oh yeah, Yoshi wakizashi.  I pulled her sword and swung it in a short arc at the scarecrow and split his head in two.
            I expected that to end the fight but the scarecrow grabbed my head in one had and slammed my head into the ground.  Once, twice, then three time.  I expect a fourth impact but I opened my eyes to find the scarecrow was missing his head and shoulders.  I shoved the rest of his body off my chest and took a look around.  The male ghost was streaking towards another one of the scarecrows.
            “Yoshi he’s going for another one over there.” I said pointing. 
            The roaring of the automatic shotgun filled the air.  The scarecrow I pointed to was shredded to pieces, even before the ghost transformed it into the reaper.   Rob must have recovered the shotgun. 
            The ghost reappeared and streaked to a scarecrow outside the range of the shotgun.  He entered the scarecrow and transformed it into the reaper.
            The Ghost leapt across the field once more on the attack.  In two jumps in was nearly on top of us.   A bolt of fire shot from Yoshi’s hand and caught the scarecrow in the chest.  It landed back on the ground and collapsed in a shower sparks.  It flailed about for bit then I saw the ghost abandon the failing scarecrow body and streak towards another.
            “This is getting ridiculous, he is going for another.”
            “He is just going to keep coming until we’re dead or he’s out of scarecrows and he’s getting harder to beat.” Yoshi said.
            “Light ’em up.” I said pointing at the rows of scarecrows.
            Yoshi whirled around like a top, spewing fire as she turned with in moments most of the scarecrows were ablaze.  Forming a wall of flame between us and the approaching reaper.  He was going to have to find a way around.  I looked around to see if the other ghost had joined the fight.  I saw her floating impatiently near the entrance to the corn maze.
            “We’ve got to get out of here,” I yelled.  “Which way?”
            “The dark energy source is this way,” Yoshi yelled as she took off towards the corn maze. 
            We plunged into the corn maze.  The corn was a couple feet taller than I was.  Cutting the corn out of the way had created small openings and paths. We were visually cut off from the outside world and the only sound we could here was the loud crackle of flame.   That would be the unintended consequence of our action.  The sound of the flames would cover the rustling sound make by the stalking scarecrow. 
            “Stick to the path.  It may make it easier to see him coming,” I shouted over the fire.
            I got nods from both Yoshi and Rob.  I took the front Rob took the rear.  Yoshi was in the middle so she could help either one of us.  We didn’t go far before we were confronted with a choice of paths, and by the female ghost. She floated a couple of feet above the ground blocking one path and pointing down the other. 
            Well she could have joined the fight earlier.  It seems she now wants us alive for some reason.  I took a chance and took the path she indicated.  It went a short way then branched off again.  There floating in the junction was the female.  She pointed out a new path.  I hoped she was pointing out the right direction.  Again I followed her path.
            “Dan, do you know where you are going?”
            “Not really.  I’m going where the female ghost is pointing.”
            “You’re what? You do remember she was trying to kill us don’t you?”
            “Well yes but she doesn’t seem to be trying to kill us now.”
            “Did he do this often in the war?  Follow people who wanted him dead.” Yoshi asked Rob.
            “Not that I can remember.”
            “Well I guess there is a first time for everything,” I said, “Now can we stop talking and start moving.  There is still one out there that still wants us dead.” I said placing my hands on my hips and bestowing my best glare on both of them. 
            The reaper exploded from the corn on the left side of the path slammed into me and carried into the corn on the right side of the path.  I wrapped one arm around the reaper’s shoulder and neck and my legs around his waist so he could bring his scythe to bear.   The reaper responded by trying to crush the breath out of me in a bear hug.   Screaming in rage I stabbed Yoshi’s wakizashi down into the back of the reapers head and shoulders trying to do as much damage as possible. I knew I was on my own. Yoshi and Rob couldn’t attack for fear of hitting me.  Lights started to explode before my eyes and the edges of the vision keep creeping in but, I just kept stabbing and cutting to the scarecrows shoulders.  I must have done enough damage because I felt one of the scarecrows arms fall free of its body.  Air has never tasted so good I breathed it in great big glups. The reaper was still carrying me into the corn. I had no idea where we were going or where Yoshi and Rob were I just kept cutting into the reaper.  We broke into a large circular clearing in what I supposed to be the center of the maze.  There posted in the center of the opening was a giant scarecrow.  It was already glowing when the reaper carried me into the circle.  The reaper dropped me on my ass.  The giant scarecrow in the middle grinned it’s familiar sinister grin and stepped of its frame.
            Oh goody.  Now the female Ghost is going to join the fight.  I could only hope to hold them off long enough for Yoshi and Rob to get here. 
            The giant scarecrow took a couple steps and squared of facing me.  I had been maneuvered so that I had the reaper at my back and giant smiley in my face.  Oh this was so not good.  I dropped into my best fighting stance.  Giant smiley crouched to leap.  She jumped, so fast my eyes barely had time to register the movement.  I brought my borrowed blade up defensively but giant smiley sailed high over my head and crashed into the reaper. 
            I whirled around and stood there in shock as the giant smiley literally tore the reaper limb from limb. The reapers ghost fled the failing scarecrow body.  Sailed high in the air reversed and plunged head first into the ground.  The Giant smiley scarecrow simply collapsed as the female ghost followed the first into the ground.
            I stood rooted to the ground staring at the spot where the two ghosts had disappeared. 
            “Great what nastiness is going to happen now?” I asked aloud. 
            A skeletal hand thrust its self up from under the ground.  Followed by another, then another, then another, and finally a fourth.  The hands clawed and pulled at the earth dragging complete skeletons out of the ground.  The skeletons turned in unison fresh dirt cascaded from their yellowed bones and from the top of their domed skulls.  Both nightmare creatures regarded me. Their dead eyes lit by an eerie blue fire in their depths. 
            “I got to stop asking stupid questions like that,” I informed the newly risen skeletons.
            Both skeletons advanced on me one circling left the other right.  I turned as quick as I could menacing the monsters the best I could.  Then with perfect timing the both advanced on me.  I slashed at one and tried to spin out of the way.  I felt Yoshi’s wakizashi get ripped from my hand.  The skeletons icy cold dead hands encircled the flesh of my wrists and legs.  The skeletons picked me up between them one had my arm and leg on the left the other on the right.  The pulled me in opposite directions.  The pain was unbearable the world spun away.
            The world faded back in and I found myself doing dishes with hands that weren’t mine in a house that I didn’t recognize.  I caught a glimpse of a face reflected in the glass.  I recognized that face it wasn’t my face it was the face of the female ghost.  
            “Great, he’s late again.  Probably drinking with his friends again.  If he comes home and tries to hurt me again I swear it will be the last time.” I heard myself say in a woman’s voice. 
            I didn’t mean to say anything. I was like I was and observer in this body.  Then it occurred to me that’s exactly what I was.  
            My hands reached into a pocket and felt the reassuring bulk of a snub nose revolver.  I gave my pocket a little pat.  Just then I heard a car pull up into the driveway and run over the garbage can.
            “Great he must really be drunk,” I said.    
            The front door slammed open my hand reached into my pocket and grabbed the handle of the pistol.
            “Jennifer, I thought I told you to take those damned garbage cans off the street.  Now I done ruined my new paint.  Your gonna have to pay for that ya lazy bitch.”
            The male ghost, now a living man staggered around the corner fists clenched.  I felt my eyes drawn to the hunting knife belted at his waist. 
            “Well what do you have to say for yourself?” he screamed.
            “Lenny, those cans were right next to the house just where they are supposed to be.  You’re so drunk you don’t even realize where you parked.”
            Lenny didn’t even say anything his fist just lashed out and caught me on the side of the head.  I went down in a heap but got back with the gun in my shaking hands.  I shot rang out.  Hitting Lenny in the leg but Lenny was past felling pain.  The shot just made him mad.
            “You’re gonna have to do better that that you stupid bitch,” he said while drawing his hunting knife slowly.
            “I’m gonna make you scream, bleed, and beg for your death before I kill you.”
            I turned and ran for the back door.  I slammed it open and fled into the night.  The ground flew under my feet but I could hear Lenny’s lumbering footsteps closing on me.  I plunged into the corn field and hide in the stalks. 
            “Jenny where are you.  Come out come out where ever you are.”
            Lenny’s footsteps faded in the distance I waited my whole body tense just in case he came back.  After a couple of minuets I felt my body relax and a sigh escape my lips.
            “Boo, Happy Halloween bitch,” Lenny’s voice sounded in my ear. 
            A sharp cold sensation cut across my throat followed by a warm wet fluid running down my chest.  My hand went up to my throat and encounter hot liquid pouring from my neck.  I held my hand up and saw bright blood in the moonlight.  I collapsed in a heap face up and waited for the world to fade to black waited to die.  I saw Lenny standing there I saw the gun in my hand come up.  I felt my hand pull the trigger, once, twice, and three times.  I saw the bullets impact Lenny in the chest.  He went down, dead before he hit the ground.  I died with a smile on my lips. 
            The world faded back in, I found myself looking down at Jennifer’s body and Lenny’s body.  They were being dragged by and old man to the center of a cornfield.   The old man tossed them uncaring into a fresh dug hole. 
            “Damn it Lenny I told you not to marry that woman.  I told you no good would come of it.  Now you had to go and get yerself kilt.  Now to protect the family name ya have to be hidden way.” 
            The old man walked to a tractor started it up and used it fill the hole with dirt.
            “Dan! Damn it Dan.  Wake up.”
            I found myself laying face up in a pile of jumbled bones.  I looked up and saw Yoshi’s face it was the most beautiful thing ever.
            “Yoshi, is it over?”
            “Yes, its over.  The dark energy is gone.”
            Fade to black.  

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